With a name like Guantanamo Baywatch, you sort of have to be cool – and they are a three piece to boot, which is usually a guarantee – but anyway this trio have come from Portland, Oregon, with more Rockabilly in their hearts than The Cramps and more surf rock than you can handle. “Oh Rats” and “Mesa, AZ” come and go in a sparkle (guitarist and nominal frontman Jason Powell had grown up in the town. There’s a pleasing lack of planning here (“we’ve got a very special song for you, I just don’t have a setlist, so I can’t remember what it is” offers Powell at one point) and when they play a slower one “Too Late”, then they do it with great effect. Drummer Chris Scott is a former surfer and his work behind the kit is exceptional. Together with Chevelle Wiseman – the bands bass player – they are a fun way to spend half an hour, and that – you imagine – is how they want it.

“We are The Chisel” screams Callum Graham, and “we don’t give a fuck!” That, to be fair, is that. For the next half an hour, aggression is the order of the day, a catharsis, if you will. The London and Blackpool based mob have just released a new single “Cry Your Eyes Out” and it is delivered as if its brandishing a broken bottle and looking for vengeance. That’s sort of the hinterland for this, “Come See Me” for example, sounds like if you took them up on the offer, you’d end up in intensive care and just in case you were in any doubt, there’s a new song “Fuck ‘Em” (“the chorus is really easy,” says Graham, “it goes ‘fuck em,’ ‘fuck em’, fuck em’” and it does). There’s no subtlety here, but there’s not supposed to be. This is hardcore aggro with an Oi! Spirit, and that’s all The Chisel want to be, and judging by the size of the moshpit on the floor below the balcony, then its job done.

Birmingham, as Eamon Sandwith points out, has a special place in The Chats heart. It was the location for their first show outside of Australia, they’d played, he says “that place with the tiny stage”.

Fast forward five years and on a spring Wednesday, the Institute’s big room is packed. 1300 people have come to mosh, to pogo and to witness just about the hottest punk band on the planet right now. Dave Grohl loves them so much, he sent their video to Josh Homme and they opened for QOTSA, Iggy Pop adores them and so does pretty much everyone here.

Usually this is the bit where I say “and this is the story of how they did it” like I’ve set up a big reveal. The truth is now, though, that I don’t know. Songs like “Nambored” “about a shithole in Queensland” and “Billy Backwash’s Day” “about how the average drongo in Queensland spends their time” probably weren’t supposed to be mainstream, but we are where we are.

They’d arrived on stage with Judas Priest playing – impressive local knowledge also included covering a track by The Killjoys, Kevin Rowland’s punk band before Dexys – and they were heroes before they’d played a note. As they should be.

The first time I heard the band was the utterly glorious filth of “High Risk Behaviour” and there’s enough of it, the wonderful “Stinker”, “Drunk N Disorderly” – which still encourages you to do “two lines of Gak in the car park” – and others. But then the scamps went and released a record that was probably even better, and “6L GTR” from The charmingly titled “Get Fucked” is turned into a singalong.

There’s plenty from the debut too, including “Nazi March” and “Temperature”, and it has to be said, that no-one here is too fussed about progression or any of that bollocks. This is just three blokes doing what they love to do with their mates. Josh Hardy on guitar chucks out riffs with the best of them, mind you.

There’s about 25 songs in about 50 minutes – the only band I’ve ever seen do more is The Misfits – but there’s no encore. Instead, “Price Of Smokes” slows things down (by this I mean to about 80mph) and their cover of “Rock N Roll All Nite” is proof that any cover of Kiss is better than actual Kiss (probably because this band is actually playing live, but whatever) “Smoko” (the one Grohl loves) and “Pub Feed” – there’s enough of them round this part of Birmingham, whether you’d eat the grub is another matter, mind you – and that’s it. Save for Foreigner and one of the worst songs on planet earth (that ballad!) over the PA as they leave the stage.

So how did they do it? How are The Chats filling venues this big. Who knows? Just be thankful they are and the gig going public have shown a rare attack of good sense.

You wouldn’t want every band to do this or every gig to be this fast and aggressive, you feel like you’ve been pummelled with a concrete block by the end. This show, though, needed to be. Next stop arenas? Don’t rule it out.

More From Author


Popular Posts

Latest Gig Reviews

Latest Music Reviews


Band Of The Day