Story and photos by Gabrielle Calise
The Growlers brought the beach to downtown Gainesville on Thursday.
The psychedelic surf rock group played two back-to-back shows at Loosey’s Pub on November 5, adding a last-minute second concert at 11 p.m. in addition to the sold-out set that they performed at 7 p.m. The intimate, sold-out series of shows fell on the last night in the group’s string of Florida tour dates.
In the dim venue with just the ghoulish glow of green and blue lights cast over them, opening band Broncho took the stage. The Oklahoma-based indie rockers performed a dreamy, lo-fi set that set the stage perfectly for the band to come.
Unfortunately, technical difficulties made it hard to fully understand the band. Vocalist Ryan Lindsey’s yodeling was drenched in distorted effects that made it impossible to distinguish what he was trying to communicate. This shouldn’t have been surprising since Broncho’s most popular song, Class Historian, is known for its catchy yet nonsensical chorus. However, I asked at least four people if they could understand what he was saying, and not a single one was able to translate the gibberish, whether it be the group’s lyrics or the stage banter in between songs. Nonetheless, the crowd seemed to enjoy the band for the most part, bobbing along to the beat until Broncho wrapped up its set.
The dark, cozy bar was a perfectly intimate location for The Growler’s mysterious brand of psychedelic rock and roll. The crowd welcomed The Growlers with a hearty round of screams and applause that didn’t die down until the band left the stage at the end of the show. Members of the audience stood on chairs lining the walls to get a better view of the band as couples danced in the back of the venue to bouncy surf guitar riffs. Spectators sang along with Brooks Nielsen’s lazy drawl and danced until the wooden floorboards shook.
At the end of the band’s first set, everyone had to leave the venue – even ticketholders who were planning on attending the 11 p.m. show. The whole thing struck me as a little strange. I think that a back-to-back show is a unique idea to satisfy fans who didn’t get a chance to snag tickets before they sold out. However, The Growlers didn’t seem to treat the evening as two identical concerts. Rather, the vocalist thanked the crowd for a successful “part one” of the evening, and said he’d be back at 11. As someone who only planned on attending the first set, I felt a little cheated, like I’d only received half of the concert experience.
With two set’s worth of time to fill, the band was able to perform a number of older hits in addition to their fresh material from their most recent album, Chinese Fountain. However, they neglected to play some of their bigger hits, such as One Million Lovers, during the first show. I can only speculate that they saved their most popular tunes for “part two” of the evening.
Still, The Growlers put on a powerful performance. Judging by the overwhelming response of the audience, I would say that their fans would have to agree.
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