A roar from the crowd notified me that The Growlers had made their way to the stage. “Let’s get it on” lead singer Brooks Nielsen let out while the band picked up their instruments. “We’re here to fuck spiders” he continued, and with the crowd in laughter, they strummed into their first song, ‘Someday’, from their 2015 album Hung At Heart.
‘Brooks’s voice sounds good’ was the first thought I had.
Having not seen them live before, I was interested to hear how his unique vocals would sound; turns out, faultless with that raw rasp. From the outset he had a way of making you feel both relaxed and very intrigued. He has a presence of someone who was truly born to do it. He doesn’t jump around or amp up the crowd, he merely sings with concentration, passion and a heap of nonchalance. Eyes closed and grooving slightly, with no shoulder movement, just head and arms.
He has you grooving and not wanting to look away, like when you spot an interesting looking person who you can’t stop looking at, and you’re stuck trying to figure out their face. I was left trying to figure him out. Observing quirks like his excessive squinting, his chatter to himself between vocals – not missing a beat – and tying his own hands up with the cord of the mic. A unique dude with his own style.
‘Dope on a Rope’ was the next song that sticks in my mind with its playful riffs and catchy chorus, it had everyone singing and bopping along – a definite crowd favourite. This was followed by some songs from their latest album, and reason for the tour, A Natural Affair. A slightly dancier and poppier project than previous, especially with songs like ‘Social man’ that people dancing.
It’s a luxury as a band to have so much good music that the gig becomes a journey. You can slow it down and then speed it up, have a deep song and then one full of fun. The Growlers have earned this luxury and are able to fill a two hour set in this way, without a trace of monotony. Their set was brought to its heaviest point with ‘Vacant Lot’ allowing everyone to let off some steam.
The crowd showed its energy, taking it upon themselves to orchestrate into a crouch. With everyone down waiting for the chorus, smirks on faces, knees starting to ache. The chorus hit and prompted everyone to jump up. It was the peak of the crowd’s energy, which was high all night, as everyone landed from that first jump, ready to throw themselves around.
Brooks, Matt and Kyle left the stage having not played a personal favourite ‘Going Gets Tough’. With no thought that they were actually finished, the crowd got into the encore chant anyway, “one more song” everyone chanted louder and louder, long enough that it started to feel as though they did leave. But of course, they returned, gifting us two more songs. Playing ‘I’ll Be Around’ and ending right in the feelings with ‘Going Gets Tough’.
“We are done … damn”. Brooks told us full of disappointment, marking what was the end of the last song on the last stop of their Australian tour. “I’m gonna miss you crazy assholes”, he said and put down the mic.
After six studio albums and over a decade of performing, it was a pleasure to see The Growlers perform such a polished and fresh set. It’s clear that the authenticity in what they do and the consistency of it has earned them true fans, who appreciate their work fully, and the room full of fans singing to every song on this Friday night is a testament to this.
Where: The Torquay Hotel
When: Friday January 17 2020
Reviewed by Bert Seaton
Photos by Caz Michalak