The crowd surfers, showers of beer and sea of phone cameras didn’t faze the Growlers frontman Brooks Nielsen. He seized nearly every opportunity to crack a joke as he led the Orange County garage-rockers through a boisterous 24-song set. “Do not hesitate to back that ass up, if you feel so inclined,” Nielsen told a sold-out crowd.
Nielsen’s croon—think Jim Morrison with the raspiness of Bob Dylan—separates the band from its contemporaries. It’s most evident on “Naked Kids” and “One Million Lovers.” The guitar-driven upbeats of “Dull Boy” and “Going Gets Tough” turned into jam sessions, and the six-piece led the venue in a rowdy dance party that was the cause of countless spilled drinks and even a fight. Nielsen’s snarky nostalgic comments reflected the mood of the night. “As a band, we grew up visiting this city. It’s a shit show—still is, but we love it.” ★★★✩✩
Photos by Alexander Zayas