Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Growlers @ The Opera House

The Band: Brooks Nielsen (Vocals), Matt Taylor (Lead Guitar), Kyle Straka (Keyboards/Guitar), Anthony Braun Perry (Bass)

The Growlers
Photos by Danielle Burton
       Friday night walking along Queen Street East, I heard the familiar surf-reggae twang of The Growlers 'Going Gets Tough' wafting out of a crowded bar and onto the sidewalk. I made the journey over the Don Valley to catch the band's only Canadian date this tour at The Opera House. Approaching the venue, I noticed a long line of fans snaking around the corner of the building and down a side street, disappearing behind The Growlers' gargantuan tour bus. The band has come a long way since I first saw them almost exactly three years ago at a Burger Records showcase at Lee's Palace in October 2013. Back then, the band was touring in a caravan of underground rock with fellow SoCal cohorts Gap DreamCosmonauts and Together Pangea. Toronto's own Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs even opened the show. Now their cult following has grown enough to sell out a venue twice the size with just them on the bill.
       Their fifth studio album City Club is due out this Friday, September 30th on Cult Records, produced by none other than Julian Casablancas. The band's sound has always been hard to pin down, often cited as a unique blend somewhere between country, surf, pop, punk, psych, etc. The title track 'City Club', which premiered on Casablancas' monthly radio show Culture Void on Sirius XMU, seems to move away from their signature 'beach goth' surf vibe and expands on the disco element they experimented with on 'Chinese Fountain'. Casablancas' influence is clear on this song and as the first few chords ring out followed by distorted vocals, the song could easily fit in with one of The Strokes' later albums or even Casablancas' solo album. I'm excited to hear what they've done with the rest of City Club.

       Friday night's show was a typical Growlers party, with everyone excited, engaged and dancing all night long. The lack of an opening act made no difference since the crowd was already so excited for The Growlers they would cheer at the glimpse of any guitar tech or security guard that graced the stage even for a second. When the band finally appeared in matching white embroidered western suits, the room exploded. The floor was so tightly packed it was impossible not to move with the rhythm of the people. Sometimes it was even hard to hear Brooks Nielsen's vocals over the crowd singing and shouting along with every word. It was just a non-stop ball of energy and excitement from start to finish. From the balcony, the pit looked like a mess of bobbing heads and arms flung to the sky in ecstasy. 
       By mid-show, the sea of fans became the perfect ground for crowd surfing, with at least two or three people up at a time and Brooks offering encouragement between songs. The security guard drew the line at stage diving, but as he escorted people off stage to the right, more would jump up to playfully taunt him before falling back into the crowd. It was by far one of the most fun shows I've been to in a while. No opening act also meant we got more time with The Growlers and the band played for almost two full hours. The band finished their set with one of their earlier songs, 'Someday', but there was no way that crowd was letting them go just yet. The band came back for a three-song encore, with Brooks informing the crowd "You guys were chanting for one more song. Well, there's a couple more for ya!". My night ended just as it began, with The Growlers playing 'Going Gets Tough' and before I knew it, I was back on Queen Street East.
        I try to see The Growlers every time they come to town and if you haven't yet, you should definitely check them out next time they're around. Tour dates and tickets for this fall can be found here, including their annual Beach Goth festival in California, which has one of the coolest and most original lineups of any festival out there. And don't forget to pick up City Club this Friday at your friendly neighbourhood record store!

Article and photos by Danielle Burton.

1 comment:

  1. awesome review and sad i missed the show! i love Brooks suit jacket and tie! anthony