The Growlers at SXSW

Posted March 18, 2011 in
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 On Wednesday, March 16 I had the chance to check out The Growlers, not once, but twice in one day. I first heard about this group in early Sept. a few days before they were set to play a show in Salt Lake City at Urban Lounge. Unfortunately, there were some mishaps and only three of the five members made it to Salt Lake City. The show was still good, but nothing compared to the killer sets they played last  Wed.


The first show of the day took place on the roof of Cheers around 5 p.m. The shining sun and the rooftop patio were the perfect setting for the band’s moody California surf rock. The Growlers sound a bit like semi-psychedelic Beach Boys on a morphine drip. Lead singer Brooks Nielson crooned to the crowd and had groovy mellow dance moves that made him look a bit like a lounge singer. “Acid Rain” and “Something Someone Jr.” were two of my favorite songs in their set.


Approximately eight hours later, and God only knows how many drinks later, The Growlers were setting up on a tiny stage at BD Rileys. Before beginning their second set of the evening, they draped the shoebox-sized stage with a number of mylar space blankets. By the end of the night, the space blankets were wrapped around various members of the crowd, worn like ponchos by band members or being tossed like giant beach balls through the crowd.


Although the set seemed identical to the one that had been played hours earlier, this run through sounded like the band was more in their element. Nielson’s crooning was more passionate and over-the-top. The space blankets added an element of playfulness to the set and the tiny stage made the performance feel more intimate. By 2 a.m. when the lights went on and management at the bar was trying to push everyone out the door, The Growlers were still teasing the crowd with the opening notes to some songs. The crowd wanted more and it seemed like The Growlers would have been willing to play more if given the chance. It’s a shame that this groovy dance party had to end so early.