Having a slight mix up in venues (I swear I saw the gig advertised for the O2 Academy…) I managed to get to the O2 Institute in time to catch Guantanamo Bay‘s set, albeit too late for any photos (much to my dismay and a massive apology to them).
Having not heard of them before I didn’t know what to expect but was greeted pleasantly with a huge wall of sound when I came through the doors.
The only way I can personally describe them is a modern day surf rock punk 3 piece with a hint of buddy holly and that era, certainly unexpected but very welcome, something different and exciting.
Think surfing bird but with more dynamics and passion, they certainly had the crowd bopping and dancing along, and talking of the crowd it has to be one of the fairest turnouts for an opening act I have seen in recent years, and I reckon those who are here are happy they managed to get to see these American Surf Rock masters.
I couldn’t at the time tell you the names of any of the songs after hitting their Bandcamp page I can certainly pick out a few they played such as “Barbacoa” and the much slower number “Too Late”, the latter of which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the soundtrack of a film like Grease.
They are a really fun band to watch and listen to, definitely putting their all into this performance and I would recommend getting to the show early to catch them, the Birmingham crowd really appreciated them and let them know with a huge round of cheers and applause.
Net up were The Chisel. Fuck me my ears have just been assaulted, in a very pleasant way. The Chisel bring with them plenty of good old fashioned sounding punk, with a front man who obviously adores getting as close to crowd as he can and singing directly and proudly at everyone in attendance.
The slam pit is absolutely kicking off by the time the first song finishes and they are straight into another with, it seems, no letting up to make this audience go mental.
With quite a few pointing fingers and shouting from the front few rows towards the stage it is clear that these London Lads are well loved and already have a good following, and I can see why.
I’ve been to many a punk show but these guys are something else. Ones to look for if you are fans of the exploited, pistols, anything rawkus, aggressive, loud and in your face.
One song that really got things going was one called “fuck ’em” with many people happily shouting back the chorus, which was absolutely awesome.
With it being a gorgeous evening outside it means that with The Chisel working the crowd up into a frenzy it’s difficult to know if there is a fog machine going or its just the pure sweaty steam from a happy moshing crowd.
I’d definitely love to see these guys in a smaller venue, punk as it should be and a very tight unit (who I must say sound much better live than on recording, and that’s not saying the recordings are bad, but where they excel is in the live domain).
On a side note it’s nice to see that because of the weather the security in the pit are armed with many cups of water, keeping those at the front hydrated, something i haven’t seen at a gig for years so huge thumbs up and kudos to the security/venue for that.
Whilst the crew broke the stage down and started setting the scene for the main act the crowd were in high spirits, with many chants of “Chats, Chats, Chats…” and “Fuck The Tories”.
The lights dimmed and the place erupted as the 3 members of Australia’s finest punk export came on to the stage, waving at everyone before a heartfelt request from Eamon saying “Have a good time, but look out for each other”.
Not very often I see a 2 page setlist taped down but tonight was one of those occasions which could only mean the night was going to be fast, furious and fun with The Chats.
The set starts with Nambored, the crowd becomes a wave of people jumping up and down, with the slam pit making a reappearance. The faces in the front row were beaming with smiles and nodding heads as they felt the force of the crowd pushing behind them.
The set was full of crowd pleasers such as Billy Backwash, Ross River, Kids Need Guns, Getting Better, Struck By Lightning and many more. With occasional interruptions for a quick chat, reminiscing about their first non Australian gig being in Birmingham, stating that The Chats and Birmingham have history.
There was 3 things I didn’t know I needed in my life until tonight, the first being perhaps the greatest stage backdrop ever “GET FUCKED”. Secondly was a live, faster version of my favourite Chats song “Smoko”. And lastly it was a punk cover of the classic Kiss song “Rock And Roll All Nite”. All 3 making my night a very happy one.
They rounded off their set with “Better Than You” followed by “Pub Feed” before receiving a mass of appreciation from the Birmingham Fans.
There was no encore tonight, but it was a good move as The Chats, as well as The Chisel and Guantanamo Baywatch gave us a show that will be remembered for a long time, a night of Punk from around the world.
There are only 2 more dates on the UK leg of the tour: Friday 26th May at Leeds Beckett Students’ Union and Saturday 27th May at The Roundhouse in London. Go see them if you can, you won’t regret it.