Live Review: The Growlers with DJ Johnny Basil at Crocodile 6/16/16

Live Reviews
Gerrit Feenstra
all photos by Victoria Holt

EDITOR'S NOTE: Recent allegations have emerged against numerous artists on Burger Records, including The Growlers who are featured in this article. The behavior survivors are alleging in recent days relating to bands in the Burger Records orbit is horrifying and reprehensible. We join many others in the community calling for accountability and reckoning within an industry that too often allows this type of behavior to be tolerated and ignored.

KEXP has provided coverage and airplay for many of the artists named in the allegations, over many years. When allegations like these surface, we start from a position of believing victims and survivors, we attempt to learn more, and we take immediate appropriate action until the issue has been resolved, if it is. We're also making sure our DJs are aware of the allegations, and will be communicating with them to make sure they continue to follow the story. We will also be following this story through our own editorial coverage. 

For more information on how you can support sexual assault survivors or if you need support yourself, visit

There's very little surprise in seeing a two night Growlers stint at the Crocodile sold out as can be. The California surf rock band has seen some pretty stellar years of growth as of late, culminating in their excellent latest LP Chinese Fountain, seeing the band at their strongest and cleanest yet. Housing a truly unique sound and lyrical approach on a crowded plane of surf rock stand-ins, the Growlers are the real deal. Nothing proves that more perfectly than sets like tonight's at the Crocodile. Two nights deep in adoring fans, Brooks Neilsen is cracking jokes telling his voice to buck up and make it through the set or else. Meanwhile, his band sounds like a dream, rolling through every rockaway beat with finesse and style. Together with the mystical DJ Johnny Basil, tonight's Growlers event was an unsurprising spectacle, and a solid ending to the band's short but sweet residence in Seattle.Opening for the Growlers was perhaps the most interesting man in the world not directly sponsored by Dos Equis. DJ Johnny Basil is as much myth as he is man (his Thump piece should tell you as much). No prior introduction to his set or stage persona is needed. Once he enters, you are captivated by his presence - there is nothing else. Walking into the room with a Capitol Records bomber lazily decorating high shoulders, Johnny reaches down to a record case and pulls out disco gold. Song after song of classic disco and electro funk, Johnny dances around the stage, miming out his best spiritual interpretation of the classic. From Maceo Parker to La La Leader of the Pack, it's all here. Oh, did I mention that beneath the blue bomber, Johnny Basil is an aviator-wearing Iggy Pop lookalike? Please, for your own betterment, follow him on both Instagram and Soundcloud. There's nothing but good here, and nothing but good opened for the Growlers this evening. By the time Johnny Basil was done, there wasn't a single member of the audience left without the feeling of good vibrations.

DJ Johnny Basil:

The Growlers are such an easy sell. The California surf rock band rocks and rolls with the best of them, churning out hit after hit of easy on the palette garage magic. Then there's Brooks Neilsen, who sounds like Alex Turner from 2007 and gives about as much of a care as Julian Casablancas in 2003. Singing over his shoulder rocking tattooed biceps, you can see the high school girls that successfully dodged the barrier swoon and scream. When his shoelace comes undone halfway through a song, an eager fan ties it for him from the front row in return for a mischievous smile. Their energy is infectious, bringing all the fans around them to a similar level of sweet abandon. Then another song starts and we all sway back and forth with smiles as the kids try and start mosh pits. Matt Taylor and Kyle Straka both look like edgy 1989 extras on 21 Jump Street, while Scott Montoya keeps the rhythm with the help of touring extra Dustin Ineman (also of Gardens & Villa). The Growlers are something timeless and familiar, while still never losing that spirit of youthful rebellion and beachside lax.

If their latest album Chinese Fountain proved nothing else, it's that the Growlers have a world of top-notch professionalism ahead of them. Sure, they have ties to the likes of Burger and similar west coast slackers, but seeing them lay down the set they have here tonight, it's easy to see the band doubling capacity for their return trip on a new record. Plus, the band are just hilariously fun. One song to the next, Neilsen's interactions with the crowd, however minimal, are playful and tantalizing. It's a classic rock and roll formula really - let your excellence far outweigh the weight you seem to place on it. The Growlers honor this in astounding fashion, playing with pristine quality with the sole expectation of a good time. After a furious set of nearly all singles, the band close with a short cover of Biz Markie classic "Just A Friend". It's a song that fits well within the wheelhouse of the band's sardonic takes on relationship in the modern world. And yet, it's an olive branch to break the mysticism - the Growlers don't seem to have a whole lot of goals beyond the obvious: make great music and show you a good time. With shows like tonight's, it's not hard to fall hard into the moment and hope it lasts.

The Growlers:

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