I moved back to Minneapolis this past August after six years in glorious, sunny Southern California. Most people I’ve told that think I am a little bit crazy for trading sand and sun for snow and ice. However – I love this city and I’m pretty darn lucky to have an amazing family I love enough to move back here for. This winter in Minneapolis has been nothing but ups and downs. Two weeks ago I was sitting on the roof at LynLake Brewery playing cards and enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, and yesterday I was bundled up in my LL Bean parka heading down to First Avenue for an evening with Orange County-based legends, The Growlers. The Growlers made me feel like I was back in sunny OC again, hanging out at The Observatory in Santa Ana sipping over-priced tallboys. The Growlers set last night was just what Minneapolis needed to warm up in the middle of (yet another) cold snap.
The Growlers are currently in the middle of their massive, 40+ city, City Club Spring Tour. The Growlers are on tour solo, with no opening or supporting acts. The doors opened at First Avenue at 7:30 pm, and The Growlers took to the stage right around 9:00 pm. I showed up probably ten minutes before show time and it seemed that hour and half before showtime gave the crowd plenty of time to warm up with an adult beverage (or four) and get loose for The Growlers. Their pre-set playlist was some pretty heavy disco tracks, which is absolutely fitting for The Growlers.
The Growlers played an impressive 24 song set, plus a two-song encore. The Growlers have an extensive discography and last night’s set was the perfect smattering of it all. They sprinkled in old favorites like One Million Lovers, Naked Kids and Pet Shop Eyes and well as tracks off their new album City Club (full set list below). Since moving to Orange County for college back in 2010, The Growlers became a staple in my musical treasure-trove. This was mostly thanks to friends who were about twenty-times cooler than me and hailed from sun-drenched cities such as Costa Mesa, Laguna Niguel and Santa Ana who introduced me to a whole new world of music (as well as carne asada, California burritos, and “real” horchata). However, during my time in Southern California I never got the chance to see The Growlers live, so last night was a treat to say the least. The Growlers are somewhat of local legends in the Orange County music scene for coining the style of music now known as “beach goth.” They even started the annual Beach Goth festival in Santa Ana. However, a nearly sold out First Ave Mainroom shows that their reach extends far beyond the orange curtain. Frontman Brooks Nielsen definitely seems like the mastermind behind the success of The Growlers, but is supported by a solid band. Nielsen and the six piece band played through the almost two hour set with ease, sipping on an unidentifiable orangey-pink drink (my guess is Tequila Sunrises) between songs. Nielsen kept the banter to a minimum on stage, but still had the crowd absolutely captivated. He commanded the stage with a cool, easy confidence. When he opens his mouth out comes otherworldly vocals, that can only be described as god-given. The crowd was a pretty post-grad, arty one, which again seems fitting. And we only saw one guy taken out for partaking in an, um…illicit substance. Overall, the crowd was just there to sit back, chill out and jam with The Growlers.
It’s been a busy first few months of shows for the team here at Twin Cities Media, but The Growlers are definitely in the running for one of my top shows on 2017.
Set List: World / Dog / Hiding / Naked Kids / Night Ride / Dope / Daisy / Pet Shop Eyes / Late Bloomers / One Million Lovers / Living / Let It Be Known / Wet Dreams / Moaning Man / Toe / Someday / Empty / Change /Gay / Vacant Lot / City Club /Chinese / I’ll Be Around / Good Name/Rubber Encore: Blood / Tuff