Mariachi El Bronx hosts its own kind of May the 4th party

Mariachi El Bronx’s frontman has never finished Star Wars and doesn’t care what you think.
Photo: Edison Graff/Kabik Photo Group
Jason Harris

Monday night at Brooklyn Bowl could perhaps be best summed up with one quote: “All you outer-space nerds go f*ck off.” And with that, lead singer Matt Caughthran and his band launched into “Norteno Lights,” a song that sounds like it was born in a Texas border town.

Out of context, Caughthran’s words might seem odd. In context—Monday was Star Wars fans’ May the 4th (be with you) day of celebration—they’re still strange. But maybe they’re to be expected when a crowd boos a guy for disclosing that he’s never watched Star Wars all the way through, and has no desire to do so.

You need to understand, odd is normal for Mariachi El Bronx, the mariachi version of LA hardcore punk band The Bronx. MEB features multiple acoustic strings and trumpets, and all eight members wear matching mariachi outfits, complete with sparkling golden eagles on their backs.

Caughthran mentioned that some doubted The Bronx could pull off the genre switch and that its members were often called posers. But now they’re riding a wave of critical acclaim and exposure, and Monday, it was easy to get caught up in the mariachis’ clear enthusiasm at playing to such a lively crowd. Songs like “Cell Mates” and “Everything Twice” had everyone dancing. The guitar intro on “High Tide” made you feel like high tide could come in any moment while you relaxed on a Mexican beach.

It was a good night to be at Brooklyn Bowl, with the performers and crowd embracing each another with full corazones. Caughthran, ever the wordsmith, summed it up best with his description of Las Vegas, “Where the players play, where the pimps pimp and where Mariachi El Bronx has a stronghold.”

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