The Growlers, Some Days, Gantez Warrior @ The Coach House on 6/14
Better Than: Wiping out on a crappy rented surf board
We may have been a few dark miles away from the foamy beaches of San Juan Capistrano, but after watching wave after wave of psychedelic surf rock crash over the audience at the Coach House, I felt like I should have packed sun screen and flip flops. Last night, The Growlers roused flocks of dudes and dudettes (sorry for using that word, but in this case I think it works) from all over south county to deliver their free flowin' brand of soulful surf psychedelics and feverish punk rock.
I made my way toward the lights of the stage to find a faint dose of jangling guitar and apathetic vocals. The warm up band was finishing up their set. Just looking at them on stage with their scraggly mop tops and sun tanned skin reminded me of a bus load of Jeff Spicoli’s disciples engaging in a loose percussion pow wow. After a few minutes I was debating whether or not to wait in the parking lot for the headliner.
Things got better though (but not much), with the moody rock delivery of a band called Some Days. For one thing, drummer/lead singer Anthony Matarazzo a.k.a. “Tony Days” warmed up to the crowd by saying “I just found out that I’m HIV negative.” With that comment the band got the most applause of their set.
I’m not sure if Days was drunk or not, but from watching him wail away on a towel-covered drum set and screaming into the mic, I am willing to bet he was. At first I was hoping the band’s stripped down, no frills style would grow on me, but by the middle of the set I was regretting my decision to sit so close to the stage.
By 10 p.m. or so, the audience seemed eager to get to The Growlers. But not before a mild set of surf punk courtesy of Gantzen Warrior. Sporting board shorts and Hawaiian shirts, GW looked like they had come straight from the beach. Backed by the Growlers’ drummer Brian Stewart, they gave the crowd a well appreciated surf beat pinched in with some snazzy song titles like “Chocolate Covered Ecstasy.” A dance party on the side stage resumed and the audience seemed to become a blur of flowing arms and hips. However, the band’s good time image got a little sour during their tune “Arabian Love Song #69.” What can I say—lyrics about Mohammed in the sand with a turban on his head enjoying his oil and reading the Koran, weren't exactly conjuring up good vibrations.
After that I was glad to finally get to watch The Growlers finally get on stage in their matching shiny blue suits. The crowd was at full volume as the band shuffled into position, looking slicker than a gang of used car salesmen. Front man Brooks Nielson wasn’t shy about showing off his fluency in Spanish as he greeted the crowd: “Hi everyone, we are Los Growlers, that’s Spanish for ‘The Growlers.'” Impressive. But what actually did impress me was the band’s full sound that balanced on a swinging back beat rhythm, shimmering guitars and reverb for days.
Nielson’s ghostly melodic vocals trailed over the work of his other bandmates Matt Taylor (guitar), Scott Montoya (bass), Miles Patterson (keyboard/guitar) and Brian Stewart (drums). Following the trend of the night, fans of the band couldn’t help but turn the stage into a dance floor as groups of girls got up there and grinded to the music.
All in all, the bands psychedelic beach rhythms took me straight to the ocean. I even think I felt sand squishing between my toes as left the parking lot.
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Personal bias: God bless reverb
Random Detail: The best stage decoration ever: A chimpanzee wearing a pink Afro wig.
By the way: Check out the Growlers’ review in Locals Only by Dave Segal.
View photos of the concert here.