The Growlers + Mystic Braves @ 02 Academy 2, 24th May, 2017

The Growlers

Southern California based band The Growlers are part Seattle part San Diego. Or perhaps a better way to describe them is a part Liverpool part Brighton. The rock funk that steams from the band is undeniable, but so is their lighter more beach surf side. With their sixth album City Club released in 2016 the band has been on an extensive tour circuit. Their first UK stop was at the O2 Academy 2, where fans crammed into the upper room to take part in a dance fest akin to the festival where The Growlers where first birthed. Splicing together psychedelic and surf rock, The Growlers played an extensive show that lifted spirits and infused dancing rhythms into each heart.

Mystic Braves, Los Angeles based psychedelic rock band, opened for The Growlers. Igniting the audience with energy the band was the perfect introduction to a night of rowdy dancing and electric energy.

The Growlers

After a short turnover The Growlers sauntered onto stage with confidence and ease, clearly the cool guys of the night, their band filling the smaller stage. “Toe” was first up; the distinctive texture and tenor of the vocals mixed in with the rock ska, giving the song a bouncy dance vibe to it. The audience responded, propelled by the music and an elixir of drinks the audience started swaying and dancing. The party was just beginning, but it was a party no doubt. Mid tempo funk alternative rock “Dog” was followed quickly by “Hiding.” “Hiding” is that quintessential beach rock that came to typify The Growlers sound. The almost 70’s nod is clearly a favourite of fans, who sing along. The elongated instrumentals and breathy feel to the song give the music a timeless energy; while it is very current sonically it can also be transported to another era without any major disruption.

The Growlers

Base led “Naked” is the tempo shifting song that builds a sense of emotion and excitement to the set while “Night” finds the entirety of the band singing in harmonising beauty. Almost like a tribe of bees the band sings in one song, giving “Night” a hypnotic effect. The silence and trance is broken, as “Dope” and “Nobody” stir the fans into a frenzy. The anthematic quality of the songs pulls everyone from the lull, men are thrown onto shoulders of others and the songs take on a new life as the rambunctious crowd celebrates every chord. The vigour is sustained as an instrumental introduction gives way to “Too Many.” The heavy use of synthesised keys gives the tune a futuristic tone to it while the multiple singers divert attention away from the single vocal previously noted. Confessing to the audience that the band is trying to play as many songs as possible, The Growlers launch into “Daisy” and guitar lead “When You.”

The Growlers

Sultry and smooth, some would say sexy; “Feeling Good” is up next. With perfect harmonies and muted instrumentals the song sounds like velvet feels. The tempo picks back up with “Someday,” reggae feeling “Million,” and psychedelic “Gay.” Drum circling “Vacant Lot” morphs into a sound explosion, with each band member lending unique sonic power to the heavy tune. “City Club,” the title track off of the most recent album, offers a bit of a pop rock edge to the set, followed by 80s modern rock “Chinese.” The vocals pour forward, opening song “Good Name” to excited gasps from the crowd. The song builds into a beautiful psychedelic rock tune that could have easily been found in a similar club in the 70s. “Rubber” and “I’ll Be Around” round out the set, with the encore finding “Blood” and  “Tuff” to close out the night.

The Growlers

Music evolves and grows, as it should. Artists tend to create time specific tunes that relate to the phase of music in which they create. It is why we can articulate clearly defined sounds by their generation or location. The Growlers however have created over their past six albums music that seems to be transcendent of time. As their O2 Academy show displayed their music is very much current, pulling in all the long haired floral shirt wearing hipsters, and yet it also feels very nostalgic. Some would say ageless. It is the mastering of this balance that makes The Growlers an excellent and interesting act for this generation. At the O2 Academy The Growlers crafted a show of sonic explosion that brought good vibes, the perfect way to kick off their UK tour.

Reviewer: Kylie McCormick

Photographer: Arta Gailuma

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