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The Chats, Cosmic Psychos, The Schizophonics + Gym Shorts - House of Blues (Boston) - Tuesday, Oct 17

19 October 2023

Punk rock hasn’t exactly broken any new ground over the last several decades, but when it’s done right the saying “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” applies as strongly as ever. The Chats have teamed up with fellow Aussies Cosmic Psychos and brought along two American bands to blaze their way across the US for a solid month, energizing old fans and creating new ones. As an (clears throat) ‘elder,’ I haven’t kept current on the punk scene and this show at first appealed to me mainly for the opportunity to see the Psychos again, after a thirty year drought.

But The Chats showed why they were the headliner on this package tour that drew a pretty impressive amount of people out on a Tuesday. I originally thought that the somewhat cavernous House of Blues was an optimistic choice for this show and while the balcony was pretty empty, the floor was jammed and since that’s where the action was, that was the place to be. Snotty teenaged attitude and a handful of chords is foundational to good punk and The Chats had that in spades. Performing in front of a large GET FUCKED banner which is also the title of their latest and second record, the band hit all the right targets; tight and catchy songwriting, goofy and fun lyrics about smoking and razor-sharp execution. They also paid honor to the forebearers by having the Psychos drummer Dean Muller sit in along with Paul Caporino from MOTO and was a nice touch. The crowd was pretty manic during their set; among the dozens of crowdsurfers, one stood out for drinking out of his boot while being held aloft. And not one but two pair of glasses were somehow orphaned on stage.

I’ve always held the position that Cosmic Psychos are Australia’s answer to Motörhead, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get trio of brawny men playing no bullshit rock and roll. Like the Ramones, they might only write one song but it’s a pretty great song. Along with Lubricated Goat and King Snake Roost, the Psychos were Amphetamine Reptile’s Aussie annex, delivering churning rock in a highly effective manner. I was unaware that they continue to release records and stamina is never an underrated attribute in this racket. Unfortunately the merch table was out of this shirt but it’s a sentiment I can stand behind.

The opening chords from The Schizophonics made me think they were launching into Spacemen 3’s “Revolution” but shame on me for not recognizing that shared DNA of “Black To Comm,” from MC5. What followed was a raging set from this San Diego trio, scuzzed out garage rock that saw Pat Beers careen endlessly across and on top of the stage, dropping down into James Brown splits and whirling like the proverbial Dervish all the while playing guitar with just his fret hand. To say it was a high energy show is like saying that a hummingbird occasionally flaps its wings. Beers would jump off the stage and clamber over the barricade during the final song, commanding everyone to crouch down around him. Impressive performance to say the least.

Gym Shorts got the night going for the early bird arrivals, and the Rhode Islanders served up a competent set of updated punk rock, but the gap between them and The Chats was glaring.