Shed rock, pub rock, punk rock, whatever you want to call it, The Chats are onto something.
Seemingly out of nowhere (in truth, they’re barely out of high school), these three young Aussies are making a big name for themselves. Right now, they have a mostly cult following, with a few A-list fans thrown in (think Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, Alex Turner and Matt Helders).
However, whether they like it or not, The Chats are on a trajectory that is going to propel them way beyond a cult following. They haven’t released an EP yet, but are selling out shows across Europe, America and of course their homeland, Australia. Not bad, eh?
If you saw The Chats walking down the street, a shed rock trio would be low down on an assumed identity list. Bassist and frontman Eamon Sandwith’s ginger bob-mullet is as bold as it is bizarre. Combine that with shorts, pulled up socks and whiter than white skin and you’ve got the raw ingredients for an iconic front man for the future. Think AC/DC’s Angus Young with the pallid skin and ginger hair of 70’s Bowie and you start to get the idea.
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Opening with 'Nambored', they are frenetic, a hurricane of punk angst and are fearsomely energetic. It’s ferocious 100mph stuff, and the crowd act accordingly: At most gigs you can usually spot the mosh pit somewhere distinct from the crowd, somewhere vaguely front and centre. No such thing here - it’s the entire Forum colliding into one another. Beer, sweat, blood and people are tossed about from the off. It only takes a few moments before security haul their first (of many) crowd surfers out of the pit.
After announcing "This one’s about pingers", they launch into ‘How Many Do You Do’, and continue to fearlessly thrash their way through the tune after tune. The crowd chat is brilliantly Aussie - The Chats talk about STDs, drugs, spending your bus money on a six pack of beer and wanking. Don’t they know we’re a nation of prudes?
Suddenly, the support acts have returned to the stage, taking over and firing up AC/DC’s 'Highway To Hell'. Why? It seems Sandwith and Co. fancy a dive and a surf. Why the fuck not, they deserve it. Needless to say, the crowd are more than happy to oblige.
Once back on stage, there’s no let up in the speed and ferocity of the threesome, powering through the rest of the set before arriving at the moment so many in the crowd had been prepping for: “This is a new one, you haven’t heard it ya c****” is Sandwith’s intro to the viral hit 'Smoko'.
'Smoko’s 2017 online release was the genesis moment that launched The Chats. It’s also the crowd’s moment to belt out the line most associated with The Chats - "I’m on Smoko, so leave me alone". It’s spectacular, brutal, exhausting and exhilarating. A bonafide jaw on the floor moment.
Bringing the show to a close with ‘Pub Feed’ and ‘Better Than You’, Sandwith is wrapped up in reel of duct tape. It’s an apt reflection of the fun, pranking, zero-fucks given nature of the band. We can only stand back, take a deep breath and try to suppress the jealousy we feel not being part of the on-stage mayhem.
It may be the end of the tour, but this is surely the start of something much, much bigger. Expect plenty of festival bookings coming soon.
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Words: Milo Wasserman
Photo Credit: Nick Allan
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