Better than: Staying in because of the cold.
The Growlers are a band that describe their time on earth in terms of “moon cycles” and put out a 25 “greatest hits” collection before having a major label release.. They have a Ty Segal-esque output strategy: that of the shotgun set to fully automatic. When I interviewed them last year, lead singer Brooks Nielsen, in reference to a stalled effort with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, said that he didn’t give a shit if people got bored of his long records. They seem unhinged–their one-time live-in studio in Costa Mesa, California, had impaled baby dolls hanging from the ceiling–but their brand of madness is a delightful tab to swallow.
And while last night didn’t feature any of their famed mumu/pagan-mask wearing it did have plenty of Growler-tude to it. Their fans are a breed bordering on deranged cult, but the sort of cult that would give you free weed instead of forcing you to drink the Kool-Aid. The beach-goth five piece inspired a weird juxtaposition of a violent mosh and girls dancing onstage in a way you’d expect to see at an Usher concert.
The Auerbach record never materialized, but another one did (released Tuesday) and they played plenty of cuts off of it last night. Titled Hung at Heart is a slightly tighter record than the previous releases, but still retains its essential weirdness. Standouts last night included “Naked Kids” and “Row” and the waltz-like jams that bridged several of their songs. They sort of remind you of a human version of the Star Wars Catina band if they had been relegated to a sleepy Mexican backwater. There’s a distantly Western (in the Ennio Morricone sense of the word) vibe at work–they’d be a perfect fit on a hypothetical Django Unchained sequel.
Live, Brooks Nielsen’s voice is just as uniquely throaty and dismissive as on their recordings. During beloved tracks like “Gay Thoughts” and “Wandering Eyes,” a slow churn of a mosh pit erupted and gradually gained intensity. Someone in the crowd yelled out: “hipsters don’t mosh.” This caused people to mosh harder. Some guys took their shirts off; people threw beers cans at them. At this point three girls jumped up on stage. For the most part, the band members ignored them. The chaos climaxed when a member of openers Mmoss dove off the stage headfirst.
The Growlers music isn’t exactly standard mosh-pit fare, but to deny fucked up kids the right to slam into each other on a weeknight would be completely un-Growler like. Nielsen recognized that, saying “When we wrote that song did we imagine people moshing to it? Fuck no but we’re not going to condemn anyone. This is a rock show. Do whatever you want. We’re going to play a song, you can dance if you want to.”
Overheard in the Crowd: Get Growlin’!
Random Notebook Dump: For a good sense of what they’re all about watch this video of The Growlers fucking with their local news.