he Growlers have captured a unique perspective of modernity through their combination of uplifting surf rock and brutally honest lyrics that allow tough emotions to be probed without succumbing to their intensity. This intersection between punk-rock transparency and guitar riffs that evoke summer vibes has been categorized as 'Beach Goth', a term the band has not shied away from considering their annual festival carries the same name. This combination of opposites appeals to those who are seeking camaraderie in their inner struggles while also attracting those generally looking for a damn, good time.
The Growlers 2019 tour began in September and one of their first stops was a two-night run at Chicago's Metro, attracting droves of hungry music fans. The night was initiated with a supporting set from the California trio, Pinky Pinky. After a 30-minute set of "L.A. garage rock", the murmuring crowd waited for the headlining act. The crowd grew extremely excited as the five-piece band approached the stage but they screamed and cried as frontman Brooks Nielsen walked on stage wearing a striped shirt, wallet-chained paints and a beret. The differing reactions are understandable considering it is Nielsen's raspy, nasally voice that provides vocal leadership on every song.
This signature vocal styling is so specific to The Growlers, I thought perhaps it was some sort of vocal manipulation used during production, but as they began their set with 'Heaven in Hell', these theories were instantly quelled. Not only does Nielsen's voice retain a natural grungy feel but the band including lead guitarist Matt Taylor and keyboardist Kyle Stratka seemed robotic, playing every song to perfection. Tracks like 'Dull Boy' and 'Night Ride' were vocally nailed by Nielsen and he seemed to victoriously dance-march as his band mates took off on guitar solos, traveling the grooves. The Growlers provide such an infectious energy in their live shows, it is quite difficult to restrain from dancing and singing along. At one point during the show, Nielsen reminisced about his days slaving away at some dead-end job and before the next track he said, 'Look how far we've come!" This sort of authenticity is rarely found in bands these days and the crowd savored every song.
The Growlers will be touring around the United States until early October hitting cities like Philadelphia, New York, Orlando, Seattle and more. They are also hosting the eighth Beach Goth festival on Halloween in Los Angeles and will be touring in Europe in February.