Denver’s DJ boyhollow played ‘80s pop hits from Bowie and The Stones; basically he played anything a little too dark to be included on the soundtrack of a John Hughes flick. But the show didn’t really start, meaning the crowd didn’t really get down with the goth-pop, until the Orange County psych rock revivalists took the stage, and Nielsen started jiving to the percussion on “Big Toe”.
Nielsen joked that he was excited to play new songs off The Growlers’ latest release, City Club, “because who wants to listen to Chinese Fountain anymore?” I laughed, but I’m also really into their directed professionalism onstage. City Club is The Growlers’ eighth album in six years. The City Club Tour is a classy time warp that essentially revived Creedence Clearwater Revival. But The Growlers evolving style is taking an obvious clue from The Strokes.
Don’t worry Chinese Fountain fanatics. They played the title track of the release, “Dull Boy”, and “Black Memories” as well. Earlier tracks were included on the setlist too, like 2010’s “Empty Bones” and 2013’s “Tell It How It Is”, which was like hearing The Growlers restored years before Urban Outfitters releases the 10-year anniversary vinyls. So if you’re listening to the new Hot Tropics anniversary drop in 2020, just know that BolderBeat heard “Sea Lion Goth Blues” first, ok?
Full disclosure: Post show, post going home to write this review, I found myself sipping on good whiskey and dancing to my now Chinese Fountain pastimes in my living room. I’m here to tell you that sometimes it’s okay to do that, but “I’ll Be Around,” one of the singles from City Club, made for catchy encore repertoire that clearly has producer Julian Casablancas’ magic all over it.
In Boulder, this California surf-pop-rock band was as polished as I’ve ever heard or seen them. White suits with floral decals complimented the “city club” get-up that was going down. The signature clean guitars and distorted vocals that have made The Growlers such a staple on the Colorado music scene were all around. And Nielsen was all business when he rocked the stage with his classic two-step, two-mic performance.
Though he’s known for being notoriously shy, eager fans took every chance they had to get close to Nielsen. It’s a really surreal experience to be conjoined at the hips to the people on every side of you swaying. At that point, there’s really nothing left to do but submit, and let everyone crawl over you to take pictures, touch Nielsen’s surprisingly clean white Converse, and reach around you to tug at any part of the man they could attempt to grasp. Fans boosted fans trying to get onstage to hug Nielsen, talk to lead guitarist Matt Taylor about an after party, or stage dive into the dancing crowd. Which had me wondering, “When the band doesn’t initiate crossing the fourth wall into a mob of fans, shouldn’t fans not only be cognizant of that, but honor the stage space, no matter how much you love them? Or does being a fan entitle ticket buyers to create their own experience out of the evening, even if it could impact the musicality of a band’s set?” Leave your thoughts on this one in the comments folks.
Fortunately, The Growlers are one of the most talented national bands I’ve seen this year, and even with all of the attention at Saturday's show, they managed not to miss a beat. This was The Growlers’ fourth show in Colorado this year; they played Belly Up Aspen, The Ogden Theatre, and Mishawaka Amphitheatre before returning to Boulder’s The Fox to premiere City Club. We’re looking forward to the album, which drops next Friday, September 30th, as well as future shows from these top notch dudes. Maybe even with a little more sweat.
Keep up with The Growlers here.
All photos per Hannah Oreskovich for BolderBeat. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.