Last Friday at the Larimer Lounge, the Growlers did the first of three weekend shows (the others being Fort Collins and Boulder) in Colorado. Why don’t more bands do this? In lieu of the hundreds of miles between gigs most bands have to travel just to get to Colorado, you’d think more acts would want to do multiple nights in state — if only to let the band’s vehicles recover between long drives to Salt Lake City or Kansas City.
Taking in a few scenic vistas might make up for the mind-numbing, soul-crushing journey into sensory deprivation that awaits travelers in either direction on I-70 between Kansas City and Denver. Must be a bitch to be a tree hugger in Eastern Colorado or anywhere in Kansas, when there are so few trees to hug.
The Growlers rolled into the Larimer from SLC around 11 p.m., looking no worse for wear, while the Brothers Chars got ready to begin their portion of what ended up being about two hours of Grade A wackness. Formed solely to perform at this show, the Brothers Chars set was filled with percussion (besides the drummer, almost every member had something to bang), props (a papier mache torso) and peculiarity. The band’s second song was the surf classic “Wipeout” by the Safaris. Following the band’s first number, it came completely out of left field. Still, it previewed the Growlers set in that it was surf and that it was fucking nuts.
The small, clearly drug- and alcohol-fueled audience made its state known early on during the Brothers Chars’ set. At first, it seemed just another “Is that person high, inventing a new dance or what?” moment. It was probably all three, the band feeding off the enthusiasm of the dancers. All in all, a decent, energetic showing for a band that had rehearsed for about a week.
Hailing from Costa Mesa, Calif., the Growlers sound is surf-influenced (lush, twangy guitar) with some psychedelic elements. Not the Northern California droney/stoney kind, though, since practically every song had at least one time signature change. Their psychedelia is definitely Southern Californian, more like the ’60s and the Doors than 2010 and hard psyche, like the Warlocks. More sun and beach than fog and heroin.
Also, unlike some psychedelic bands, the Growlers set featured songs with pop hooks and, occasionally, a dance groove. Although in true surf/garage/psychedelic fashion, the Growlers brought plenty of reverb to pass around. It sounded fantastic.
A brief mini-orgy broke out among the dancers mid-set. Everybody, band included, seemed out to have a great time. Lead singer Brooks Nielsen’s funny stage banter was a treat throughout, although sounding a little like Benicio Del Toro in “The Usual Suspects” toward the end, when he mumbled, “This is really gonna be the last song.” After a crazy night at a place that’s seen plenty of ’em, sadly, it was the last song… unless you wanted to see the Growlers the next two nights.
Follow Reverb on Twitter! Here!
Mike Long is a Longmont-based writer and comedian and a regular contributor to Reverb.