The Chats, Bad//Dreems and Crocodylus
Clwb Ifor Bach, 12 December 2019
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So let me set the scene: The Chats are nearing the end of their December UK tour, but not before stopping in Cardiff for their first ever Welsh gig. The hosting venue is the upstairs of the beloved Clwb Ifor Bach, which just a few weeks ago had fellow Aussie-punks Amyl and the Sniffers tear up the stage.

After discovering The Chats a few years ago thanks to a YouTube recommendation for hit track/meme ‘Smoko’, I began to discover what else Australia’s punk scene had to offer – and I wasn’t disappointed. Pist Idiots, Mini Skirt, Dumb Punts, Israeli Chicks have all become regulars on my playlists since.

Set openers for the night, 3-piece garage rock outfit Crocodylus, were not a band I had heard of however, which was a shame. Their set provided a mix of explosive, high energy garage-psych with aptly titled tracks such as ‘Adrenaline’ and ‘Sweaty Already’. Consider me a fan.

I appreciated the all-Aussie line-up this gig/tour had to offer, functioning as something of an Australian punk-rock showcase. Each band, whilst able to fit under this umbrella term, offered something different in terms of sound. Second up were a band I had heard of but didn’t realise they were playing until just before doors opened. Bad//Dreems are a 5-piece ‘outsider rock’ band who’ve been knocking about since 2012. The most mature on the line-up with three LPs under their belt, this experience allowed them to cater a set of fan favourites, however due to the stagnancy of the crowd I guess not too many had heard of them before.

As The Chats’ stage time of 9pm approached, Clwb started to feel full – a reminder that this was a sold-out, highly anticipated show. A large banner hung behind the drum kit featuring each of the members crudely drawn headshots, and ‘The Chats’ written in their signature font in large above. Suddenly the lights go dim and Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ starts playing. The Chats emerge from around the side of the stage, having to navigate in and out of the crowd to access it.

No-nonsense, they immediately set the pace with set-opener ‘Nambored’. Bassist and vocalist Eamon Sandwith screeches the lyrics ‘got seven bucks / waiting in for the train / it’s starting to get dark / it’s starting to rain.’ His lyrics are consistently in a commentary-esque style, focusing on themes of drinking, doing drugs, having a good time and getting fucked over. The crowd start pushing and jumping about pronto. I’m enveloped in a sea bodies and spat out at the front of the stage next to a monitor, allowing me a decent spot to photograph.

‘This next song is about doing pingas’ says lone guitarist Josh Price. The Chats’ vocabulary is also riddled with Aussie slang – ‘pingas’ meaning drugs, ‘darts’ meaning cigarettes, ‘goon sack’ meaning wine box and so on. They crack on with ‘How Many Do You Do’ and proceed to jump between playing several tracks from their self-titled 2016 EP and 2017’s ‘Get This In Ya’. Each song is short and fast, rarely exceeding two minutes in duration, and before you know it bodies start launching themselves into the crowd off the stage.

The Chats tease a handful of new/unreleased numbers, presumably songs that’ll feature on their debut LP that’s set to be released at some point in 2020. It’s more of what The Chats are loved for by their fans – high energy, moshable, (self-proclaimed) ‘shed rock’. The songs’ content ranges from heatstroke to chlamydia. It’s at this point an abundance of items starts appearing on the stage; t-shirts, glasses, a handbag, a shoe – a sign that the gig is going the way it should.

It’s not too long before The Chats start nearing the end of their 45-minute set. The sweaty 400-strong crowd are still full of energy as Sandsmith begins the bassline for fan-favourite ‘Smoko’. Simplicity is common across his basslines, which makes them so damn chantable. ‘I’m on smoko, so leave me alone’ everyone yells. The lyrics are comical and no less relatable. The stage, which has served as a launchpad for crowd surfing throughout the night, sees a peak in the amount of crowd members flying from it. It’s made difficult by the surface being covered in beer – people are slipping and sliding as they start their run up to launch themselves back into the crowd. One woman falls flat on her face. The security at the side of the stage try to discourage anymore stage access for a bit, before going back to their lenient approach of ‘do whatever you want as long as no one’s getting hurt.’

The set ends with the two singles The Chats have released in 2019: Identity Theft and Pub Feed. Both songs are strong crowd-pleasers, and the last bit of chaos ensues. The band’s fusion between garage punk and pub rock has gone down a treat in Cardiff. As the crowd starts to empty out, I head over to the merch stand. As a sucker for obscure merch, I pick up a ‘The Chats Love Beer’ beer koozie as a momento.

Aussie punk sure seems to be in a strong place right now, and I can only hope that more bands make the long trip overseas to gig in the UK in 2020.

Words and pix - Jacob W
See more of Jacob's pix here

Thanks to James at Division PR for sorting this out