The Growlers‘ crazy live shows are known for their surprises. But the real surprise at the sold-out Casbah last Friday was that relatively obscure opening bands can still bring the house down.
Openers TRMRS from Costa Mesa managed to pull the normally subdued Casbah crowd up to the stage to get a closer look at the madness. With a sound they describe as trash-pop, TRMRS sound like what would happen if you blended Thee Oh Sees’ brand of garage rock with the jangling surf-punk aggression of FIDLAR and made them take drugs in the desert with The Growlers. Considering that the two bands are constantly playing shows together and TRMRS even recorded their first full length, Sea Things, in The Growlers’ studio, that desert trip may well have happened.
TRMRS has taken a page or two from The Growlers’ book, as evidenced by the indecipherable lyrics that were alternately mumbled and shouted from lead singer Anthony Perry’s mouth and the generally intoxicated, dazed look from the band on stage. But whereas The Growlers are content to establish their trademark laid-back beach-goth vibe and get weird, TRMRS prefer to kick the audience’s teeth in for however long they have to play. Their songs were tightly packed with pop hooks, meaty riffs, and some slow-building loud/soft dynamics that even managed to get a halfhearted mosh pit going. Expect to see this Costa Mesa band around more often.
After that, the rest of the sold-out crowd piled into the sweaty venue to see The Growlers do what they do. Brooks Nielsen stood in the dead center of the stage and very seriously chant-sang into the two mics in front of him. Meanwhile, guitarist Matt Taylor bounced and grooved about the stage, and a fresh-faced boy with an afro in the crowd explained to a large bouncer that he didn’t mean to bump into that many people — he was just trying “to get wiggly.” The liquored-up crowd was in the mood to get wiggly too, thanks to newer material like “Some Day,” which may be one of the most upbeat songs The Growlers have written to date.