Washington D.C. punks Chain And The Gang disturbed the peace at Brisbane’s The Foundry (14 March) with their high-energy rock & roll.
Ian Svenonius is a hardcore legend, having fronted influential bands Nation Of Ulysses, The Make-Up and Weird War. In front of a shocked crowd, Ian became the greatest showman in rock & roll since James Brown for his new group, Chain And The Gang.
Brisbane indie-poppers I Heart Hiroshima opened, returning from a lengthy hiatus better than ever. It was exciting to see the band’s break didn’t dampen the frenetic energy that made me first fall in love with them, and I'm looking forward to them ripping up stages once again.
Before even playing a note, Chain And The Gang’s entrance delighted. Guitarist Francy Graham, bassist Anna Nasty and drummer Fiona Campbell enter the stage, looking very much like a gang in their matching three-piece pinstriped suits, taking up their instruments to play a rockabilly three-note groove.
Ian emerges from the crowd, also in the same, matching suit as his bandmates, snarling at the audience as he launches into the lyrics of ‘Chain Gang Theme’. Ian is an incredible frontman.
He leaps in the air, scissor kicks, sneers, and goes from crooning to long shrieks of excitement when the musicians let rip, having so much fun emulating his rock idols.
Fans talk of Ian’s magnetic stage presence, and it was on full display here; I usually stand near the sound desk at gigs, but found myself being drawn closer and closer to the stage. Apparently no one was close enough, as Ian leaped in to the crowd on a number of occasions to flail, squeal, and even conduct a “Mum” chant for the electric ‘Mum’s The Word’.
The trio of musicians didn’t need the theatrics of Ian to be dangerous; all icy stares of contempt at their audience and handling their instruments like weapons to pulverise. Ian did all the talking for them, delivering tongue-in-cheek monologues on how dangerous they are, and taking particular aim at greedy capitalists.
Before revving into the punk-as-hell stomp ‘Devitalize’, Ian has an imagined conversation with a zoning committee, which could also be his mission statement: “You’re into construction?! I’m into DESTRUCTION!!!”
Everything Ian said was hilarious, never devaluing his beliefs. I found myself hanging onto his words just as much as I rocked out to the band’s tunes.
After finishing with the garage-rock bounce of ‘Reparations’, the band thanked everyone for coming, and left. Despite the applause for an encore, the band didn’t return, leaving the crowd hungry for more.
At the top of the show, Ian described Chain And The Gang as “a different kind of group; we’re a group that dares”. Chain And The Gang definitely dared, and they came out as the top dogs in their fight with The Man.
Chain And The Gang are more than just the most exciting live band I’ve ever seen, they are the most exciting live show, period! If they ever roll through your town, go hang with these rock & roll bad asses.