The Growlers Come Clean, But Keep It Rowdy

Vinyl at Hard Rock, September 12


Photo by Carlos Larios

When The Growlers invaded the Bunkhouse in February, the evening consisted of a fistfight, a theft (one fan stole a band member’s wallet), mosh pits and gallons of spilled beer. On the second night of a two-night stint at Vinyl, we saw a different version of Los Growlers, and frontman Brooks Nielsen’s new clean-cut appearance served as the perfect metaphor for the band’s performance. He’s traded his curly locks for neatly parted hair, and he sported a sharp jacket that he ditched after the first three songs due to the heat. (Fans would find out later, via a Facebook post, that Nielsen got married that weekend, explaining the new look.)

“We got too wild last night. This time, my parents are here, but they’re used to it,” Nielsen said. With that, Orange County’s “beach goth” sextet launched into the bouncing, syncopated melody of “Gay Thoughts,” which served as the introduction to a polished, albeit safe, set. Nielsen cleaned-up his lyrics—replacing “fucked” with “messed”—but fans still managed to find excuses to get rowdy. During guitarist Matt Taylor’s solo performance of “Dull Boy,” one fan managed to sneak onstage and dance for the duration of the song while sharing a beer with Kyle Stratka. Highlights included Straka’s effortless switch from keyboards to lead guitar during “Good Advice,” and Nielsen’s powerful, yet raspy vocals on “Rare Hearts.” The sold-out crowd showed its approval by singing along, shoving and splashing beer to “Going Gets Tough” and “One Million Lovers.” So much for keeping it clean. ★★★✩✩

Photos by Carlos Larios

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