By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Venue: Crowbar Ybor City, Tampa, Florida-September 19, 2019
Being a fan of retro music and jangly garage rock, Rock At Night was waiting with bated breath for The Growlers to roll into Ybor City, Tampa, Florida, on the eve of September 19th–to a sold out show! It was standing room only at the Crowbar Ybor, as people squished closely toward the dimly lit, red velvet curtained stage. I had to find a safe place at the rear of the venue, near a pole, and use the trusty 80-200 mm to capture what would be a relaxing yet magical evening.
There was no warm-up band that evening—just two hours of pure Growlers music, from a huge backlog of songs dating back over a decade. Brooks Nielsen apologized for his hoarse voice after the first song “Night Ride”, saying it was probably from too much partying or perhaps Tequila. Although apologetic, his raspy crooning voice sounded fantastic—as did the band with superb key riffs and harmonies—performing songs that cannot be pigeon-holed to any specific genre. The Growlers have deemed their style as “Beach Goth”, however, it appears to be a mix of 60s garage rock or surf rock, New Wave, reggae, and even 50s rockabilly. At times the songs sounded like soundtracks from a Spaghetti Western, with their desert, Tex Mex, feel, like “Monotonía” or “Hiding Under the Covers”.
“Dope on a Rope” had everybody singing along—actually, the entire crowd was dancing and singing the entire evening. The room was really electric and Nielsen thanked the crowd for such a warm welcome. With his relaxed tone, he made quips between songs about people drinking through straws, asking, “They allow straws in this state?” I didn’t hear the response but he joked about it being used for snorting. Later, he and the bass player shared a drink on stage with two paper straws, which made the crowd roar with laughter.
It was easy to see how The Growlers had acquired such a cult following with its standout sound and unique, poetic and often humorous lyrics to songs like “Who Loves the Scum?”, “Love Test”, and “Decoy Face.” The songs are catchy and beg for dancing—as the booty-shaking crowd did just that for two hours!
The Growlers tour will continue through Halloween when they will land back in L.A. for their annual Beach Goth Festival. In February of 2020, Europe will be in for a treat as they head to Germany and finish up in Ireland. I certainly hope The Growlers makes it back to Tampa Bay next year because the experience last night in a crowded dark club was beyond incredible.
SET LIST: Night Ride, Problems III, Dope on a Rope, Hiding Under the Covers, Naked Kids, Heaven in Hell, One Million Lovers, Black Memories, Love Test, Someday, Too Many Times, When You Were Made, Monotonia, Try Hard Fool, Natural Affair, Decoy Face, Derka Blues, Empty Bones, Who Loves the Scum?, Vacant Lot, City Club, Chinese Fountain, Humdrum Blues and ENCORE: I’ll Be Around, Going Gets Tuff
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