Hailing from Los Angeles, Mariachi El Bronx is an offshoot of renowned hardcore act The Bronx, and on this latest tour they find themselves supported by Pounded By The Surf, who are themselves comprised of several members who also appear in both The Bronx and Mariachi El Bronx. The band, in various incarnations and arrangements, straddles hardcore, mariachi and surf-rock.
For the uninitiated, mariachi is a style of Mexican folk music, in this instance featuring an accordion, trumpets, guitars, violin and a particularly talented percussionist. Before even beginning to consider their finely detailed costumes, the band is already a spectacle on such a small stage as Electric Circus’ due to the troupe’s sheer size. Charismatic, engaging, endearing and energetic the band play with cacophonous hoots of delight punctuating their set. Lead singer Matt Caughthran explains that they have only arrived in the UK to begin their February tour and that tonight’s show is their first. After apologising for the guitarrón player’s lack of costume by explaining that the notorious United Airlines managed to mix up their baggage, Caughthran leads the band through a medley of their more popular tunes – ‘Slave Labor’,’48 Roses’, and ‘Holy’ come early to much deserved enthusiasm from the eclectic circle of fans that have packed out the room. With a sea of smiling faces across an age range of some 50 years and spanning bearded ‘hipsters’ to tattoo clad punks and tie-dye touting hippies, Mariachi El Bronx have certainly won a broad following.
With their latest album, imaginatively titled Mariachi El Bronx III, released in November 2014, this is the first time any UK concert-goer has heard their new material in a live setting. In an evening where new material is embraced just as classics are relived and relished, it would be hard to single out one stand out moment but, if pressed, the slower ‘Matador’ shines tonight.
After the music finishes, walking out of the doors a lady who has followed the band for 11 years now gives her thoughts on the band’s career so far. In her opinion their continued dabbling in mariachi is wonderful as it lets them play to a much broader demographic. She explains that the band have been able to tour with acts like the Foo Fighters because there is something universal and relatable about their more accessible mariachi side, that her young nieces and nephews could happily bounce around to them in this guise whereas they ‘just wouldn’t get’ the hardcore aspect.
In a pause in the set, Caughthran threatens that they will not be returning to Edinburgh again until there is a plaque, or at least a small photograph, hung in Cockburn Street’s ‘Viva Mexico’ restaurant which acknowledges the band.
Though self-deprecating and joking about the fact that the act deserves infinitely more attention than they currently receive, Caughthran is not far from the truth; Mariachi El Bronx are a rare treasure, and an absolute pleasure – a refreshing, if somewhat eccentric appearance, on Edinburgh’s scene.