REVIEW: The Growlers at The Sinclair (5/16)

On May 16, Boston was hit with a tidal wave of beach goth rock, as The Growlers unpacked their bags and took over The Sinclair for first of two sold out shows. But despite the luxury of these back to back nights, the sheer volume of the crowd on opening night would have justified a third, as eager fans clung around the corner of Church Street well ahead of the door time. At 8:00pm the floodgates opened and the crowd rushed inside, pooling equally among the merch table, bar, and front of the stage. As the bartenders fervently filled cups and cracked open cans, the sellers at the merch table worked just as hard, trading fistfulls of cash for everything from tee shirts to limited edition artwork.

By 9:00pm the floor was packed tight, as fans admired the City Club neon sign and matching backdrop while carefully monitoring the stage for signs of life. Around 9:15pm the lights went out and the neon light flickered on as The Growlers strolled on stage. Blue and yellow light bounced off of guitarist Kyle Straka’s face as he reached for his guitar, resting a beer behind the glowing neon light as the rest of the band slid out from the shadows. But Straka and the rest of The Growlers took a backseat to singer Brooks Nielsen as soon as he stepped into the light, dressed in a trenchcoat and oozing with charisma with a cigarette neatly tucked behind one ear.

With no openers and nearly a three hour set time, The Growlers pulled material from all of their albums, though heavily leaning on their 2016 record City Club, co-produced by Shawn Everett and the legendary Julian Casablancas. Highlights from the 20+ song setlist included “The Daisy Chain” and “Dope on a Rope,” as well as a stretched out jam session of “Vacant Lot.”

Throughout the night, Nielsen wandered around the stage, grooving and dancing with eyes shut and intermittently clapping the microphone to the beat. About halfway through the set, Nielsen playfully requested a beer, and as if by magic a PBR floated from the crowd into his hand just seconds later, which he hoisted high in thanks. Around 11:00pm, The Growlers were joined by guest guitarist “Delicate” Steve Marion, who jammed alongside the band in a matching members only City Club jacket to end the set.

Five minutes after The Growlers had left the stage, fans anxiously looking at each other, unsure if there would be an encore performance. But despite having already played for nearly two hours, The Growlers returned for nearly another hour, joined again by Delicate Steve. At ten minutes to midnight, the band wrapped things up with “Blood of a Mutt” and “Speed Living,” before finally putting their instruments down for good–––or at least until the next night.