Review: The Growlers, The Garden @ Brighton Music Hall (9/14/14)

By Joanna Trachtenberg

This was my 3rd time seeing The Growlers in the last 2 years. The opener, The Garden, I’d heard of but wasn’t familiar with their music. They are a duo that consists of two twin brothers from So Cal. They started with a few short punchy punk songs. Then about midway through their set I saw the singer/guitarist put down his guitar and the drummer got up from his throne. I was thinking “They couldn’t be done so soon. They were only on for about 10 minutes.” Then I saw one of the guys press some buttons and a drum machine turned on. They both started rapping and it turned into a hip-hop show. I was not expecting to see 2 skinny guys rapping at a Growlers show. After a few minutes of that they got back to their regular instruments and the short punchy punk tunes continued. Their punk songs almost reminded me of a less aggressive version of The Hussy (who are also a duo).

Right before The Growlers took the stage a drag queen dressed in stereotypical Asian dress came out and started singing and dancing to the crowd. Some of the songs that played when she was out there were “Jet Boy Jet Girl” by The New York Dolls and “Homosapien” by Pete Shelley. At first it made me wonder if Brooks Nielsen had a new career, but once she started singing I knew it wasn’t him. After about a 10 minute performance the drag queen introduced The Growlers. The stage was decked in Chinese style fans and dragon heads in honor of their new album Chinese Fountain. The best part about seeing The Growlers live besides their music is watching Brooks do his funny little dancing. For some songs he was dancing with the drag queen and then he pushed her in to the crowd so she could crowdsurf. I didn’t recognize Brooks right away without a mustache. I personally think that mustaches should be mandatory for any members of The Growlers. Their set lasted a little over 90 minutes. Sorry but I don’t remember the actual setlist because I didn’t write it down but I know they did a bunch of new songs. The crowd seemed to get most excited towards the end when they did One Million Lovers and Someday. After the show when the bandmembers went off stage I could see one of The Growlers (I think it was Anthony) moon the crowd. They have been great everytime I have seen them and I am hoping for their thereafter walkabout.

Things I’m Excited For In 2013

Atlantic Thrills LP?! – YA! Rhode Island’s premier punk slimers have already recorded an outstanding batch of songs and have showcased several new ones over the past year. An LP is on the horizon, no doubt; I can only imagine dropping the needle on such 12 inches of greatness. As everyone knows, this band is a monster live. But imagine rocking out to the Dutroncy “On My Mind,” the shouts of OOOHHH OOHHHH and stunning guitars in “Light Shines,” AND the best of all worlds, the one and only “Acid Rain”. All on one LP!

The Return of Black Lips to Boston – Nothing has been announced yet regarding this, but it seems inevitable. It has been over a year and a half since they played here (and several other cities in the US that they regularly swung by)…far too long for rabid fans like us. Pretty much all of their shows that I’ve been to rank really high up in the ‘best live experience’ category so yeah, I’m not nuts, they are incredible.

Seeing The Fagettes As The Fagettes – It’s kind of sad that a night like this has not come sooner. I’ve seen The Fagettes as Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, but now its time for the real deal. And with a new lineup and sound that’s better than ever (the words of Ryan Fagette), I can’t wait for this!

Fat Creeps Split 12″ On Feeding Tube – Seeing as they released the best EP I heard in 2012 and were among the most entertaining live bands that I saw, there should be no surprises regarding my excitement about this. “Daydreaming,” released via music video earlier this month, is the Creeps hardest hitting tune to date. I wonder if the other tunes on this upcoming 12″ will be faster like that or more of a variety like the EP. Whatever way, I have a feeling this will be awesome.

The Growlers @ Middle East Upstairs/New Album – The Growlers stood out more than a lot of bands do when I got the chance to hear them for the first time, a little more than three years ago. At that time, they had released their mega Are You In Or Out?, which is loaded top to bottom with their reverby take on psychedelic rock and roll. I was like damn, I’ve got to see these guys live. And waddaya know – February 2010 @ TTs – they came through on their big ole school bus. I remember that show quite well, for there were more band members than people in attendance. It was a snowy Tuesday night. Nevertheless, it was really fun. I eagerly await their MidEast Upstairs show and their new album due out in a few weeks!

Better Than Something: Jay Reatard Package – It was unfortunately just announced that this was being delayed until February 2013. I’m pumped to watch the film again, but what I’m even more psyched on is the LP and the booklet.

The King Khan & BBQ Show – It is a great thing to see Mark Sultan and King Khan back together playing as The King Khan & BBQ Show. Whether 2013 brings new material, more touring, or what have you, it is simply nice to see them back together in one of my long-time favorite bands.

The Migs – This is another sort of general one, but The Migs are one of the funnest bands I’ve seen and heard. It goes without saying that they will be playing some amazing gigs this upcoming year and their ultra strong recorded output keeps growing and growing. I don’t know what to look specifically forward to, greatness itself, OK!

New Nobunny LP On Goner – ‘Course there’s not much info available regarding this, but the fact that this is a thing is beyond awesome.

The Orwells Touring – I imagine they’ll be coming here! As far as new bands doing the garage/punk thing nationally, The Orwells deserve the wave of attention they’ve been getting. They are real good.

Live Footage Of The Day


Honorable Mention: Nobunny @ The Strange, Los Angeles – A fight at a Nobunny show? Nah-uh! Brief synopsis: Nobunny performs ‘Live It Up’, but cuts it short as a mess of shit brews in front of him. Even a request from Nobunny for “everyone to stop fighting, please” was made, but did not prove to be much of a difference maker. I felt bad for one of the club’s employees as he seemed pretty chill about wanting the audience to calm down and let the show go on, but there were some individuals in the front who just weren’t cooperating….one even attacked the man with her shoe (as seen in the video). The PA guy I got to admit was pretty hilarious at the end there: “And you guys are fucking school teachers? What the fuck?! Is that what you are teaching our youth of America? Be drunk bitches at shows? That’s not girls. Not drunk girls. Not drunk women. Drunk bitches!” Some other guy gets on and says “So on a lighter note, did anyone hear that Captain Beefheart died today?” I wonder what happened after this footage cuts out. [WATCH]

Top PrizeThe Growlers @ Crazy 8’s, Cathedral City, California – A/V quality is not the best, but it is good enough! Captures the essence of The Growlers quite well. It’s great seeing such a nice crowd of people that are quite into the performance, especially the extremely fine ladies (girl in the green, word!) up in the front.  [WATCH]

EP Review: Hot Tropics [2010]

Band: The Growlers
Release: 10/2010
Label: Everloving

1. “Graveyard’s Full” – A-
2. “Nosebleed Sun” – B
3. “What It Is” – A-
4. “The Moaning Man From Shanty Town” – B
5. “Sea Lions Goth Blues” – A+
6. “Badlands” – B
7. “Let It Be Known” – B
8. “Camino Muerto” – B+
9. “Underneath Our Palms” – A
10. “Hula Hula Hideout” – B

Comments: The Growlers are pretty distinctly So. Cal, which is a pretty daunting statement to make in an age where there is striking diversity among bands from that area. What I meant to say is they aren’t too far away from Mexico and listening to their music confirms this. Opener “Graveyard’s Full” features lead and bass guitar riffs that border on traditional Mexican/Caribbean. Singer Brook Nielson’s vocal style — part raspy/part laid-back eerie — fits genuinely on tunes like this. Short ditties like “Nosebleed Sun” add to the mystique of the band. What the hell are they singing about, anyway? I haven’t been able to discern such, but such does not matter much. Rhyming, for the win. Anyway, “Sea Lion Goth Blues” is this release’s best song and it’s not like its new or anything. Far from it. Other versions of “Sea Lion” have featured a more prominent lead guitar — one of the best of its kind that I’ve heard in the last year or so. The surf notes are compelling. Still, the added echo and reverb on Brooks’ vocals and the respective instruments are refreshing. My second favorite song on here is probably the second-to-last ditty entitled “Underneath Our Palms.” It’s plainly neat.

Grade: B+ (88)

The Growlers: Wilcox Sessions

The Growlers played two songs (one from Are You In Or Out? and the other from their new EP Hot Tropics) for the Wilcox Sessions and …..

You can watch the videos here: http://wilcoxsessions.com/ !!!

Description From Wilcox Sessions Site: Who said rock n’ roll is all rainbows and unicorns? No one probably… definitely not the Growlers. These guys came into our living room ready to turn it out – or at least cover it in Mylar space blankets. Doing a number on the Bulleit bourbon and applying their Mylar space makeup, these guys were ready to kick ass and take names. The session was akin to a back-alley knife fight, and armed with our Deyermond boot camp training, we took it all in stride loving every minute of it. Bring it on boys – we’re ready for more