article by: Hayley Tomkiewicz
In May last year, Pitchfork released an article quizzing the reader on their ability to distinguish a real music genre from some made-up, pseudo-category that might not exist outside of the internet. Somehow, with those twenty-nine that they came up with, including musical concepts such as Brostep, Foamcore and something called Viking Metal, there is a band that still cannot be categorized – The Growlers.
Last weekend The Growlers came to The Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado, playing some of their classics as well as a few very recent singles from their album, City Club, all of which is expected to be released within the week. The singles included “City Club,” “Night Ride” and “I’ll Be Around” – all of which incorporate that familiar gravelly voice and that hard-to-describe trippy, mysterious sound that, despite the many changes in their style since early albums like Hot Tropics, has been consistent throughout.
The show was constantly lively, with security frequently having to intervene, pulling people attempting to hug the lead singer off stage, baselessly shining flashlights into the faces of moshers, or even the occasional escorting of a particularly rowdy viewer out of the audience. The security sucked, but Growlers’ fans that night couldn’t be stopped.
You still were able to experience one of the three signs that a show was awesome: beer spilled on you, bruises from the feet of crowd surfers, or having been the surfer giving people bruises – at least from the perspective of an observer on the lowest level.
As a band, The Growlers have a very unique style that definitely came across in their performance. It’s heartfelt, but they leave all of the energy-consuming behaviors to the crowd. We were occasionally blessed with an effortless jig from lead singer, and apparent heartthrob, Brooks Nielson. The other members’ personalities were evident, and amplified of course by those memorable white suits with the floral embroidery, inspired by some era unknown to the primarily millennial audience.
Their music, to a very new Growlers’ fan, is equally hard to pinpoint. It’s ambient, dreamy and dark most times, but nearly every song they played had a beat and could support a substantial mosh pit. It can’t be explained. It defies the laws of punk, but it worked. They seem to have found a way to add yet another genre to the list: Beach Goth. Perhaps serving as inspiration for the annual festival they organize in Oak Park, CA (see http://beachgothfest.com), whose lineup this year has some fantastic names, including Bon Iver, Patti Smith, and Violent Femmes. Damn.
So call it what you want - garage rock or psych pop or beach goth. Or just make up a new title. But do not miss The Growlers the next time they sell out The Fox.