The Growlers' show flaunted everything fans love about the beach goths

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Dan Soderstrom

The Growlers have built quite the rapport with their surf-laden, reverb rock since the release of their first album Are You In or Are You Out, back in 2009. So it was no surprise that the floor of The Forum buzzed with anticipation for the show that was yet to unfold. 

Sydney-siders Pist Idiots opened the floodgates, followed by Sunshine Coast-native punk rockers The Chats. With 15 minutes left of their set, lead vocalist Eamon Sandwith, noting their short, punchy songs blared ‘‘that should be enough for ten more songs right?” Queue ‘Smoko’. Behind the draping Beach Goth tour banner, where a goddess of death was watching the escapades go down, The Growlers slinked onto the stage, effortlessly oozing cool. 

Sporting a striped, button up polo shirt and a light brown beret, lead vocalist Brooks Nielson instantly lit up the stage, and emitted his charismatic, childlike demeanour. ‘‘Away we go,’’ he rumbled, his smoky voice slithering through the crowd, which then sliced into the driving beat of ‘Big Toe’. Followed by ‘Hiding Under Covers’, the LA band had the crowd settled in quickly. Yet the best was still to come. The energy and atmosphere instantly lifted, as The Growlers tapped into their more recent releases from City Club. Crowds chorused ‘‘over and over and over again’’ from ‘Night Ride’, these ignited, sizzling sparks sustaining into ‘Dope on a Rope’. Tracks from City Club and Chinese Fountain seemed to stir greater momentum over earlier, beloved gems, yet long-term fans were relieved to hear The Growlers had not forgotten or buried these golden, more laid back jives beneath their latest projects. 

With a cheeky start to ‘One Million Lovers’, Neilson’s stage presence became instantly more engaging and animating as he wiggled his hips in a daggy, yet somehow still groovy swing. Heartfelt ballad ‘Someday’ from Hung At Heart gave Neilson the opportunity to emit his raspy croon. Chinese Fountain’s ‘Love Test’, and ‘Good Advice’ sent the crowd into a cacophonous frenzy as bodies flew in different trajectories. In comparison, when songs from Casual Acquaintances such as ‘Decoy Face’ were played beside adored tracks from preceding albums, they appeared somewhat vacant. Latest single ‘Who Loves The Scum’ however, was played vigorously and was met with equal devotion from the crowd. Fans crumpled closer to the stage, eager to hang onto every word and note dripping from The Growlers, with crowd surfers passing over the tumultuous, undulating masses. 

An unexpected delight was a cover of The Shirelles ‘Mama Said’, which gracefully transitioned into ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’ by The Clash. The Growlers effortlessly and successfully warped the songs into their own, transcending their surf jangle into uptown soul and British punk rock. Bringing the main set to a close, the band displayed a heavier take to instrumentation with an extended progression from ‘City Club’ into ‘Chinese Fountain’. The encore as expected, concluded with ‘Going Gets Tough’, providing a tender close to the show, which was heart-warmingly received as the crowd raised their hands in gratification. What is evident is that The Growlers have attracted a wide range of listeners that continues to grow, a testimony to the strength of their music. Yet it seems punters may be overlooking their previous sound and repertoire from the early ‘00s and ‘10s, which is not to be forgotten. All in all, The Growlers continue to be a beloved band that we can only hold onto and wait for what is yet to come.

Highlight: ‘One Million Lovers’.

Lowlight: ‘Decoy Face’.

Crowd Favourite: A tie between ‘Night Ride’ and ‘Going Gets Tough’.