It’s not an easy time to differentiate between heartfelt, self-deprecating music and parody, and it’s also not an easy time to work out whether the band on stage is taking the piss or not.
For Queensland’s The Chats, who broke through with their catchy tradie anthem ‘Smoko’, it’s not hard to imagine they were taking the piss. Live, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Blending slacker rock of the ’90s and Aussie pub rock, this Sunshine Coast band has tapped into something that’s both familiar and excitingly new, to package up honest pub rock in a smart but honest way.
After all, any band that can call out “Queenslander” to a New South Wales audience and have them cheer, clearly has a lot on their side.
Nothing is particularly hard to work out with their songs, from ‘Pub Feed’ to ‘Bus Money’ to ‘CCTV’, it’s as obvious as you get but The Chats introduce it and deliver it without arrogance or prevention. Above all this, on record The Chats are well-rounded. But live their honed sound and musical nous defies the bogan-novelty band many have taken them as.
Taking cue from the likes of earlier tour mates Cosmic Psychos, they manage to make their show sound loose and improvised while at once being incredibly tight and tense. Not to mention relatable.
With new single ‘Do What I Want’ a mid-set highlight at The Landowne Hotel (20 July), of course it was the insanely catchy 'Smoko' that had phones and fists in the air, before they finished with a one-song encore of ‘I’m Better Than You’.
Impressively, the crowd was equally unpretentious and respectful, while the band gave more nods to post-punk and new wave than their off-the-cuff Aussie bogan lyrics would suggest.
If this is subverting the music scene, The Chats do it so well you can’t help but fall in love with them - and know anyone else who comes after is likely to be referenced in the same breath as this band no one thought could.