The Growlers – The Observatory – October 20, 2012

'Tis the season for spooky outings, and leave it to The Growlers to throw one hell of a Halloween party. The psych rockers celebrated their homecoming with their first annual Beach Goth Party at The Observatory. Presented by Burger Records, The Growlers headlined both Friday and Saturday nights, with support by a myriad of Burger bands, including Audacity,Sam Flax,and Tomorrow Tulips among others. 

With bands playing in both the main room and Constellation room, the mini music fest of sorts was all just a build-up to the quintet from Dana Point. And when the band finally hit the stage, it seemed as if the building was going to collapse. Fans of all ages pushed their way up as close as they could to the stage, which was decorated with wooden waves, surf boards, and breast-shaped tombstones. The Growlers are not typically a band one would associate with mosh pits or crowd surfing, but this crowd was aggressive and from the very first note, the younger attendees shot up into the air, trying desperately to land on stage.

Singer Brooks Nielsen encouraged the audience's antics as he performed, letting his fans know on several occasions that he enjoyed their rowdiness. Dressed in mixed-matched Halloween attire ranging from mumus to eccentric hats, it was hard to take the members seriously as they executed their woozy, lo-fi hits precisely. The majority of their setlist comprised songs from their last album, Hot Tropics, but they sprinkled older tracks in the mix, as well as testing out tunes from their upcoming (and highly anticipated) third release, Hung At Heart, which is slated for a November 13 release via Everloving Records.

They performed, “One Million Lovers,” the forthcoming album's reverb/delay-heavy first single, but they also previewed two other songs–the Spaghetti Western-influenced “In Between,” and the sunny, upbeat track “Summer.” These songs possessed The Growlers' '60s-tinged psychedelic elements, but they sounded quite different from each other, hinting that the new record might comprise a more dynamic sound than their earlier releases. The Growlers ended their set with their tropical, beach-vibey yet macabre “Sea Lion Goth Blues,” a fitting closer for the Beach Goth Party and the band's return to Orange County.

Critical Bias: The band has surprisingly more energy/dynamism live than they do recorded.

The Crowd: Alt-teenagers dressed in Halloween costumes and Hawaiian garb.

Overheard: “Make me a drink that will make me not able to drive home.”

Random Notebook Dump: Getting beer poured all over me is not my idea of a good time.

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