Live Review

The Growlers, The Haunt, Brighton

Still a group of mates having fun.

It’s Halloween night and for The Growlers having a gig at a place called The Haunt seems like the perfect occasion to dress up like witches (cape and make up included). With the excuse of promoting their new album ‘Not. Psych!’ (titled ‘Gilded Pleasures’ in America) this Californian quintet is taking the concept of a touring band to a new interesting level. A low budget tour van, the tasteful sarcasm with which they approach their songs and the constant interaction with the support band (Tomorrows Tulips, also from the US) during their set hint that this is still a group of mates having fun, and creating stupidly amazing songs with an unique decadent-beach-party sound while they’re at it.

It’s not just front man Brooks Nielsen’s signature vocal tone which captivates the crowd tonight, their whole tropical grungy identity has managed to build up a strong link with the fans during the past few years and songs like ‘Gay Thoughts’ or ‘Someday’ go down equally well with stage invaders, crowd surfers and with all the girls at the front trying to make eye contact with the band getting unmercifully squashed against the speakers.

Someone hands Brooks a pumpkin, and like Hamlet with his skull he sings his poems about death, old lovers and friendship like he’s talking in behalf of a whole generation of restless youngsters wanting more from life. Until he decides to throw the huge orange vegetable back to the crowd and it broke in a million pieces, anyway.

New tracks like ‘Hiding Under Covers’ and ‘Tell It How It Is’ sound clearer and more focused than their previous work but still make the crowd shake their shoulders to the catchy beats and get nodding approval from all the zombies, mermaids and skeletons in the audience.

Towards the end of the night ‘Living In A Memory’ turns the speed down just a bit showing a less ironic side of Nielsen with words about a passionate romance he’s trying to leave behind shifting the first person of the remittent constantly denoting a change on his heart too.

After a few impromptu setlist changes the band leave the stage and a few girls jumped behind them to sneak in backstage. It’s all very rock and roll until you see them five minutes later dismantling their own equipment, not that they seem bothered about it in the slightest. Guess that’s one of the good things about not taking yourself too seriously.

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