Maybe just another day of the workweek for most, August 7th kicked up some dirt at Varsity Theatre. The Growlers emerged from California in 2006, defining themselves as “Beach Goth”. They have been rolling around with a thick summer pop sound ever since. Occasionally leaning to more garage rock and sometimes more surf psychedelic, their sound is cool, mellow, and mysteriously vintage. They are instantly recognizable by lead singer Brooks Nielsen’s high-pitched, scratchy voice. On the night of the show, the five dudes moseyed onto stage with an all-expected calmness, and some smooth flair
All night they effortlessly shed sound waves. The band was in-sync, songs rolled from one to the next, and fans sang along to every word. They sounded a lot like their studio selves, which was satisfying mostly considering the unique pitch of Nielsen’s voice. The guitarists and drummer didn’t solo very much, and there wasn’t much rocking out either. Therefore, most of the excitement from the performance came from Neilsen’s subtle glamour. For a man with a chocky build and luscious black hair, he dressed like a small and unsuspecting boy might with a blank tshirt and plain Vans. His movements were simple too: small steps, kinky flicks with the microphone, cigarette hidden behind his back (and of course the signature: one-hand-on-the-hip). However, his toned-back nature matched that of the band’s sound, and being on the stage forefront, fans simply adored his subtle panache. He flittered fingers with the crowd many times, at once even putting on someone’s hat and saying “Uh…pretty sure this is how you catch something!”
The setlist opened with a classic, “Heaven in Hell”, closed beautifully with “Going Gets Tough” and had a dramatic peak somewhere in the middle with “I’ll Be Around”. They followed a solid and colorful performance by openers Video Age, who had more of an electro 80s, summer lounge vibe. Equally as in-tune, but a little more colorful and hip, they seemed to be a great fit for a Growlers Tour. Whatever part of the country they’re headed to next, they plan Baton Rouge just fine.