Could there be a more perfect Valentines Day show than The Growlers? Last night at The Hollywood Palladium , lovers, clubbers, surfers, stoners, loners and large, roving packs of single women descended upon the historic Los Angeles venue to pay homage to the most famous band to ever come out of Dana Point California. Like most Growlers shows, it was a complete freak show of costume clad customers and an overflow of amazingly beautiful women.
My wife and I Uber’ed around town so that we could get sloppy and sexy whenever the moment called it for it. We got to the venue and were met by Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and a heavy set Dorothy who would not break character. The Palladium was filled with sounds of old swing and big band records being played over the P.A prior to the Growlers arrival. You could almost see the ghosts of flappers dancing through the overflowing crowd. The stage was adorned with huge paper hearts and there was a rather large net of pink and white balloons hanging from the ceiling. The band took the stage to one of the most enthusiastic welcomes I’ve seen from a Palladium audience in a long time. The Growlers, always stylish but sometimes scraggly, were dressed in jacket and ties and the swooning suffragettes ensued from the first song.
The last couple of times I’ve seen The Growlers play I have been pretty disappointed in the set list. “Are You In Or Out” was a game changing album and some of the limited edition vinyl and cassettes that have been released by the band have timeless classics that a lot people will never even hear. It doesn’t seem like the band plays many songs off of these albums or even Hot Tropics anymore. Brooks Nielson acknowledged that fact and that changed last night with an almost 3 hour set. I heard nearly every song I wanted to hear except one: “Feeling Good”. It felt like the band was super pumped to play some old cuts like Red Tide, Barnacle Beat, Graveyard’s Full, Empty Bones and in the encore, Gay Thoughts and Something Someone Jr. These songs were played at a blistering pace. The crowd reacted. Watching from VIP gives you a bad perspective of the men on stage but an amazing view of the swirling, swimming crowd that picked up the pace whenever the band did and that was often. Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams came out for a perfectly executed duet with Brooks of Some Velvet Morning; a cover of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra and Rare Hearts off of Chinese Fountain. It was a special moment.
The setting and the set list were perfect. The Growlers put on a seminal performance that would resonate in my memory forever as one of the best shows I’ve seen them play since they were playing in small clubs over 4 years ago. It’s good to see the band continue to rise to greater popularity. There are very few great rock bands hitting huge heights in this current atmosphere of corporate music. I think The Growlers have a shot at the brass ring. I hope it doesn’t change their music too much.
Words: Danny Baraz