By the time The Growlers’ show at SOhO erupted into a mass of confrontations and forceful ejections, such a combustion felt inevitable. The audience clearly threw themselves fully into the Costa Mesa group’s brand of throwback, substance-fueled grooves. Swaths of twenty-somethings decked out in their parents’ clothes spilled over onto SOhO’s stage, where they put their groovy dance moves to work.
This isn’t to say that the vibes weren’t chill, though. The mob of bearded, GoPro-toting Growlers fans were nothing if not positive, happy to shell out a few bucks for a pin or a cassette or a T-shirt emblazoned with a cute, albeit overt, drug reference. The Growlers played a number of new songs, too, which felt distinct from the rest of the band’s existing catalogue, showing that as musicians, they have made marked and impressive musical progress of late.
But, sadly, the music wasn’t really the star of the show on Saturday night. It was the fights, the patrons screaming at club employees outside of the venue, and frontman Brooks Neilsen’s insistence that audience members not “crush the little girls up front.”
It’s hard to imagine the show going differently, considering the band’s seemingly overwrought desire to aestheticize themselves as a druggie gang of surfers, resembling some shady character group introduced in a very special episode of The Wonder Years. Despite their best efforts to be charming and different, very drunk and very high people are still very drunk and very high (even in vintage Coca-Cola tees). And if you put too many of them in one place, it usually doesn’t end well.