The Growlers Move the Arms-Crossed Crowd to Dance

You know that expression “dance like no one’s watching?” I thought it was stupid until this week.

The Growlers helped me to understand that cornball inspirational quote when they accomplished something impossible on Saturday, May 20. A crowd used to spending concerts standing with arms crossed became a collection of dancing fools.

It was glorious.

It’s frustrating seeing a show at Terminal 5, a 3,000-person capacity venue with all the charms of a middle school auditorium. Getting your groove on or escaping for a quick bathroom break is impossible. Yet The Growlers put some sort of charm on this penitentiary-like music hall. Everyone had room to jump around and dance their hearts out. Even crowd surfers scooped up by bouncers could reunite with their friends.

The Growlers’ signature sound, known to their fans as “beach goth,” was in full force. By playing their classic hits, like “Someday,” from their 2013 album Hung At Heart, and “Feelin’ Good,” from their 2015 EP Gay Thoughts, they turned the cold concrete jungle of Manhattan into a West Coast beach party.

NYC’s own Delicate Steve joined them onstage for a soaring guitar battle that got the whole house cheering and air-guitaring along.

The Growlers showcased songs from their newest album, City Club, which introduced new elements into the band’s sound. Their producer, Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas encouraged The Growlers to foray into blended harmonies and electronic beats and to borrow from the ‘80s post-punk and afro-punk Casablancas has a well-known affection for.

To the audience’s delight, The Growlers’ new songs are the most danceable of their career. As the frontman Brooks Nielson sang about heartbreak and the end of an era, the audience could do nothing else but seriously boogie down.

Nielson broke out some of his best moves on stage. Every song was high-energy, with Nielson swinging to each note and prowling the oversized stage.

This massive crowd dropped their cool-guy acts and danced like no one was watching.

And we’ll admit it. Even this super hip BTRtoday music reporter got down and dirty.

Quite the accomplishment, boys.