The past few years have found many impressive touring acts on stage at Congress Street Social Club.
For that reason, the bar known for attracting massive crowds of party people has become one of the top venues on a street ripe with live music.
On Feb. 23, Congress Street Social Club hosts Atlanta-based CHEW. The heavy touring, instrumental, psychedelic band brings a multi-sensory experience, using drums, synthesizers, electric guitars and bass. Brett Reagan, on guitars and electronics, and Sarah ‘Snare-uh’ Wilson on drums, make up the band’s core. The two prime members take a bass player by committee approach.
While CHEW is not an acronym, the band is defined by energetic, highly entertaining live shows and heavy instrumental pieces that take listeners on journeys. For Reagan and Wilson, the band has been a natural outlet for common artistic desires.
Wilson and Reagan were staples in the Atlanta music scene before starting CHEW. Having jammed casually before, they decided to team up as other bands left them wanting.
“My band at the time was falling apart, and Brett and I had already jammed together and were familiar with each other's styles,” Wilson says. “We both wanted to start a band that mixed beats with psychedelic, spacey vibes, and was also somewhat progressive in nature. It was also important to tour. We both really wanted to do that.”
Reagan says the collaboration with Wilson offered the two a chance to step into broader roles.
“Sarah and I wanted to have a say in every aspect of the band,” Reagan says. “I knew we wouldn't be happy under anyone else's leadership but our own.” The two have proven to be prolific leaders for themselves, averaging well over 100 shows a year. The constant touring seems to be an important part of the artistic process, as well as cathartic lifestyle choice for the band.
“Touring keeps you sharp,” Reagan explains. “Standing still is a chore. When we have tunes that have yet to be recorded, consistently playing them every night inevitably leads to a natural progression and evolution of the songs. I love to travel and I love to play music. My blood turns black if I work at a desk, so this life is my only option.”
The process of refining by performing live has yielded two recordings with a third record due out later this year. Their last album, 2017’s “A Fine Accoutrement,” won praise from music journalists and fans worldwide, as well as an appearance last year on Adult Swim’s “Bloodfeast.” Their third effort, "Darque Tan,” began production last summer. While recording time is tough to create with such a demanding tour schedule, the band felt like they were ready to publish more of their soundscapes.
“Somehow we make it work in between shows,” Wilson said. “We recorded the drums for ‘Darque Tan’ last summer, toured a lot, and just started recording everything else in January. We're in the producing/mixing phase now. It's so exciting to hear these songs come to life.”
While the new album is born, the band will continue to travel and entertain listeners with their trademark brand of instrumental psych music. Reagan promises to deliver a lively show for the Congress Street crowd.
“People can expect a proper show,” Reagan says. “No one goes out hoping to see a group of people standing still on stage and looking bored. You go out to be entertained. We're going to try as hard as we can to do that with lights, sound, and a rambunctious spontaneity.”