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The Growlers tie up their Australian tour with one massive night

After a weekend where I’m sure the majority of Melbourne tried to spend at least a few decent moments in that blessed sun in attempt to lap up one of the first real tastes of the long summer ahead, it felt like beautiful timing to have Californian rock luminaries The Growlers land. What unfolded turned out to be a show that will stay etched in the minds of Growlers fans for a long time to come.

After a tight little set from North Carolina trio Mod Con to help kick off the evening, the venue quickly filled to capacity and excitement was palpably intense – there was an unspoken feeling between fans that this show has been a long time coming, and fans weren’t going to let that energy go to waste.
 
It was 9pm when The Growlers formed an arc on stage. The size of their live act alone made for a profound presence; guitarists Matt Taylor and Kyle Straka, along with singer Brooks Nielson are currently the core, long-term members of the bands, and were joined by a synth player, drummer and bassist who are all recent additions to the live act.
 
Brooks Nielson is a one of a kind frontman; the idiosyncrasy of his raspy yet full, tender voice was endearing enough in itself, but on top of that his stage presence was equally as compelling. It was hard to take your eyes off him and his mannerisms. He performed with a playful, flamboyant nature, while also delivering short bursts of erratic energy. He made sure to regularly interact with devout fans in the front row by holding their hands, and often speak-sung his lyrics to create a more casual, candid style of expression.
 
The performance was a huge one, running at just over two hours. It was the last night of their tour after all, “and we’re gonna milk every bit of it,” Nielson confessed. The seven-piece played flat out, and they were exceptional at it.
 
They have quite the discography, archiving five studio albums, and they made sure not to leave too much out, often transitioning straight from one song to the next without stopping. Songs like ‘Chinese Fountain’, ‘Badlands’ and ‘One Million Lovers’ were relished by fans who have watched them grow over the years. Their 2016 record City Club was the main focus however, and the set was stacked with gems from it. Anthems with filthy big chorus’s like ‘Night Ride’, ‘City Club’ and ‘Rubber & Bone’ went down phenomenally with the crowd.
 
The justifiable weariness of the band showed through towards the end of the night when what could have been the highlight of the show; City Club’s leading hit ‘I’ll Be Around was played virtually in slow-motion which resulted in the groove of the song being totally lost. Luckily, after a suspenseful wait for an encore, The Growlers returned to the stage, welcomed back by a relieved, wild audience desperate for a few more moments together. They nailed their poignant City Club ballad; ‘Blood of a Mutt’ and ended with a short rendition of ‘Going Gets Tough’; a bittersweet, jangly-guitar staple that everyone knows and loves.
 
The band glowed with pleasure and gratitude as they said goodbye, as did their fans. The Growlers gave Melbourne one of the best shows of the year tonight, solidifying their reputation as one of the most exciting bands in indie rock.
 
Highlight: Afterwards just truly feeling like I had attended a quality rock’n’roll show.
Lowlight: Second show in a row at 170 Russell being stuck with the most excruciating couple in front of me.
Crowd Favourite: ‘Love Test’.