It may or may not have escaped your notice, but there is a substantial amount of depressing shit going on at the moment.
The price of just about everything is skyrocketing as the dregs of Coronavirus continue to penetrate the remote corners of the UK, and there appears to be a pretty concerning showdown taking place in Ukraine.
Scenes within Electric Brixton this evening, however, offers a rabbit hole of escapism from the complex world outside of its doors. A precession of mullets and moustaches hop up and down the short stairs which lead to the main pit, slipping frequently on puddles of what is, at best, spilt beer and, at worst, not spilt beer.
As the lights dim and a gargantuan white sheet with THE CHATS printed in lightning bolt typography is illuminated, the trio take to the stage to the fanfare of ‘Shout It Out Loud’ by Kiss plays over the PA. “We’re the chats from Queensland Australia,” frontman Eamon Sandwith announces, without his now-iconic ginger mullet. ‘It’s good to be back.’
What the band lack in hairstyles of yesteryear, they compensate for in energy: rattling through ‘Nambored’, ‘Billy Backwash’s Day’ and ‘Stinker’ with barely five minutes on the clock.
The Chats, who could still easily pass for highschool slackers, have become a figure of intrigue over the past few years. From the viral music video to their breakthrough hit ‘Smoko’, to their LA gig that saw Dave Grohl, Alex Turner and Josh Homme in attendance, the band are entirely accessible and simplistic, whilst simultaneously otherworldly by virtue of the popularity they have harnessed.
Due to the pandemic, many attendees have sat on these tickets for over two years, and the serotonin within the room is more than reflective of the wait. Each two-minute punk cut is met with jostling moshpits and circles of death which pack a velocity that would regularly be reserved for setlist closers.
Wigs, plastic pint cups and other airborne non-recyclables sore overhead like bogan confetti, and crowdsurfers are plucked from the wreckage by increasingly weary looking stewards. “I’ve got a shoe and I’ve got a shirt,” bassist/vocalist Eamon says as he salvages projectiles from the ground around his feet. ‘I’m gunna have a whole new wardrobe from you cunts’.
A cover from Aussie kids TV band The Wiggles ensues, before Eamon, Matt and Josh are joined by main support Chubby & The Gang for a rendition of Sham 69’s ‘Borstal Breakout’. A yellow wet floor cone – which is working beyond its pay grade in the Carlsberg quagmire of the main arena – is held aloft by members of the crowd: a reception rarely seen, one would assume, for a song from The Wiggles’ catalogue.
Novelist John Irving once said “Life is serious but art is fun!” And – as The Chats storm through frantic songs about cigarette lighters (‘Jet Lighter’), cars (‘6 ltr gtr’) and an AC/DC CD (aptly titled ‘AC/DC CD’) – it is hard to disagree that there is an element of high art in the group’s odes to the mundane. Called it neo-Dadaism, or call it a fuckabout, but it’s very bloody fun.
photo credit: Nick Allan