Legendary punks Chewie took Limerick’s Pharmacia by storm last Sunday November 26 after a four-year hiatus
Chewie, formally known as Chewing on Tinfoil, DIY punk legends in the Irish music scene, played their first Limerick gig since 2018 for a wildly anticipated gig since its announcement in October. With a stacked lineup including young local heroes 50 Foot Woman, Dublin-based noise pop group Cabl as well as Dublin band Nerves who are notoriously difficult to assign to any kind of genre, the early 5pm start did little to deter the ferocious mosh pits and whiplash-inducing headbanging.
50 Foot Woman were the first to take to the stage. Invoking the likes of The Damned, Misfits and more modern bands like Amyl and The Sniffers, a small mosh pit developed very early through their set as the room slowly filled with flying elbows and public liability insurance risks. Playing an incredibly tight, blistering set, one would quickly forget the age of the band, with most of them either being in secondary school or freshly out of it.
From veterans in the Limerick scene looming in the back, the resounding sentiment amongst them was clear, the kids are and most likely will continue to be alright. A modern take on the classic punk formula, 50 Foot Woman are anything but formulaic and on the night were a nearly impossible act to follow.
Dublin based noise merchants Cabl were next to take the stage somewhat restabilising the mood of the night. Reorganising the chaos 50 Foot Woman left in their wake, Cabl’s take on ‘sham-wave’ a genre they take credit for creating left the audience enraptured. A relatively new project having made their live debut in 2022, Cabl have been generating significant buzz in Dublin and with good reason. A sometimes dower, often euphoric, always loud set left concertgoers enamoured in the all too short half an hour they had to make their first impression on a Limerick audience.
Unpredictable to the core from instrument changes and effects-laden guitar mastery, Cabl certainly left a distinct imprint on the night. Coming out of a bustling, often competitive Dublin music scene, Cabl are demonstrably a band to keep an eye on and off of the back of their newest single ‘Shoelaces’ they may get their due far sooner than most anticipate.
The last of the openers, and a personal highlight of the night, was the Dublin-based Galway and Mayo natives Nerves. With a style of music that could only come from people that grew up in the West of Ireland, Nerves are absolutely miserable in the best way possible. With a gothic sound that can hit like a ten-tonne truck, the audience’s attention was not diverted in the slightest throughout their set. Taking to a stage lit ominously in red lighting, Nerves’ dark sound struck a perfect balance between head-banging audience pleasers and slower, far more reserved moments with deeply personal and anguished lyricism.
Mired in layers upon layers of distortion, reverb and seemingly the entire guitar pedal stock of your typical local guitar shop, Nerves’ complexity rhythmically and sonically was matched only by its ability to strike a chord emotionally in moments. By the end of their intense half an hour set, many were impressed but nonetheless in the mood for the uplifting punk Chewie were guaranteed to bring to the table.
After the emotional battery of Nerves, the ear tingling noise of Cabl, and the blistering punk of 50 Foot Woman, Chewie finally took to the stage. In light of the riots in their hometown that took place the previous Thursday, Chewie opened with one of their most popular tracks ‘F*** Team Sports’. A song about the shortcomings of mob mentality, the audience responded in kind by moshing unanimously. Known for a fast-paced brand of punk with a tasteful blend of pop tendencies and late-stage ska, the Irish music scene veterans had full control of the crowd that they refused to relinquish. More moshable moments came with songs like ‘Holy Communion’, a song that’s subject matter is obvious is typical of Chewie’s discography with insightful lyricism for its verses and choruses that will shred your vocal cords if you are not careful.
While Chewie is known for their uplifting and joyous moments, songs from their newest album ‘Inarticulate’ showcase a more developed side to Chewie. One of the songs ‘Suit Yourself’ was a personal highlight with a more restrained yet danceable side to Chewie coming to the forefront, a strange but welcome development for a band that started off their career in the late 2000’s playing Operation Ivy-esque ska punk. That’s not to say Chewie have abandoned their ideals however as songs like ‘Careerist’ showcased Chewie’s ability to really get a crowd moving.
Overall, Chewie’s set was a welcome return to Limerick for many. With such legendary status, many who had never even heard of the band before the gig left with merchandise and glowing reviews while Limerick’s elder statesmen watched on, assumedly proud. An interesting dynamic was present throughout Chewie’s set and that was the mix of the younger crowd 50 Foot Woman brought to the gig and the long-time fans who have been around long enough to see Chewie’s sound develop. Seeing two generations meld together so seamlessly leaves one more hopeful for the future of music in Limerick generally.
Putting on a fantastic show and gaining a few new fans on the way, Chewie is well worth seeing and their headline gig in the Button Factory in Dublin on December 9 will be well worth checking out regardless of the journey.