Before seeing The Chats last Sunday, I couldn’t claim to be their biggest fan. Not out of any particular dislike for their music, I had listened to and liked their previous EP’s and debut album, but for whatever reason they were never a band that I found myself revisiting. They would have fit right into my playlist of five or so years ago, alongside The Ramones, The Damned and Pennywise, but now my music taste, though still affectionate to straight to the point punk rock has evolved away from listening to the same genre for months on end. In recent months it has been easy to get caught up in ‘deeper’ and more ‘textured’ releases, but seeing The Chats has shown me a light I have been missing in my life. Sometimes you don’t want to listen to a 12-minute post-punk opus, sometimes you just want to jump around in a sweaty chasm for 45 minutes as 25 songs that rarely go deeper than their titles fly at you non-stop.
From the first minute of the show, I was cursing myself. Why, oh why, had I left it so long since going to a show like this. A performance like the one I was witnessing from The Chats is the kind of show that makes you think less of previous gigs you had been to, genuinely. My first gig back after COVID hit was seeing IDLES play an afternoon slot at Wide Awake festival. At the time it felt great to see live music again but see The Chats completely embody punk music now makes IDLES seem like a self-righteous joke act. There is no ego at a Chats gig, no great push from the singer in between songs of any certain type of politics or agenda, it’s just music. Pure, uncut, thousand mile an hour, music, and sometimes that’s all you need. I went into the gig only knowing a handful of songs so if someone is reading this in the same position and is on the fence, I implore you, go. It didn’t matter that I knew about 15% of the set, the energy in that room isn’t something brought on by gatekeepers and pit openers, it’s something born out of an intense need to expel some fucking energy, and that is what is done.
Unavoidably, highlights for me were their iconic songs Smoko and Bus Money, two true crowd favourites. Other mentions were the plethora of new tracks yet to be released all of which delivered on the adrenaline. Struck by Lightning, a recently released single was also a fantastic listen and one that, obviously translated brilliantly into a live setting. Frontman Eamon kept the energy at a fever pitch throughout, sporadically spitting into the air and catching it again, never before has a three-man punk band had such a sonic and physical presence, at least in my admittedly limited experience. The only down in the gig was when the frontman from support band Chubby and the Gang came onstage to sing the penultimate song. I didn’t catch their set so was ignorant to what must have gone on but he was met by booing form the crowd, even after he had left the stage and Eamon asked for applause for Chubby’s set. This didn’t leave any sort of negative taste in mine or anyone else mouth though, expect perhaps Chubby and the Gang themselves, but to be honest I’m not worried about that, just go and see The Chats, now!