The Growlers - Hootenanny - 7/7/12
By: Emily Coker
The Hootenanny at Oak Canyon Ranch
When one thinks of the Hootenanny, rockabilly bands like the Reverend Horton Heat or 3 Bad Jacks probably come to mind. Other legendary bands that have graced the Hootenanny stage such as The Cramps or Social Distortion may also ring a bell. With that said, this year's Hootenanny line up came with as many unexpected bands as it did veterans. One unanticipated group chosen to hit the stage was Orange County's surf rockers, The Growlers. Typically a band full of stage gimmicks, The Growlers chose to keep this performance just about the music...literally. In fact, the only tepid introduction given was vocalist Brooks Nielson's quick apology for running a little late.
From the beginning of their set to the end it was constant music. The Growlers' sound is painted with warm tones of psychedelic 1960's surf rock accompanied by vocals seemingly influenced by greats like Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan. Their music gives you this feeling of being in a twist-off at Jack Rabbit Slim's. To keep that old school vibe, Nielson uses two microphones, one in his hand and a standing mic that gives a blanketing echo effect. The eclectic atmosphere is kept up with a band member sitting at a drum, hitting it with one hand while shaking a maraca and a tambourine in the other.
The set actually flowed a lot better with the Hootenanny than expected, yet by three songs in you pretty much have the concept of their music: chill, stoner beach vibes beach vibes accompanied by largely unintelligible vocals and well placed chord prgressions. This is a band who's music is best listened to from beginning to end on a vinyl record. Hearing them live, however, gets a bit redundant. The fact that the band just played their music, no gimmicks, no bad jokes is commendable but with a sound that is so much the same from start to finish, a band introduction or something would have been nice. Despite all of this, the misfits of the Hootenanny lineup did bring a crowd with plenty on fans singing and swaying along. Whether or not you love or hate this band, you have to give them props on sticking to a specific style through their sound, look and manor.
Critical Bias: I'm more of message over music kind of girl.
The Crowd: Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Punk lovers of Orange County
Overheard in the Crowd: "Want a hit?"
Random Notebook Dump: The best sounding song of the set was their cover of The Cramps song Primitive. Aside from introducing this song the only other bit of speaking done by the singer during the set was to let us all know that he was drunk.
What it is
Old Cold River
Primitive (Cramps cover)
Sea Lion Goth Blues