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Live Review: The Growlers, The Chats, Pist Idiots

21 January 2019 | 1:29 pm | Jessica Higgins

"[Kirin J] Callinan and Nielsen dove trustingly into the crowd, Nielsen waving from his 'seat' like royalty."

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After a long week of soaring temperatures the Metro was buzzing on Friday night with a half-crazed sleepless crowd: people were still filing in while local legends Pist Idiots opened, the drummer, dubbed 'Belton Jon', living out a dream we all wished we could realise – being shirtless on a hot night. They warmed up the crowd, who lit up when the Idiots played their anthem, Fuck Off. Lead singer 'Jack Sniff' showed off his vocal chops with 99 Bottles, and all of their songs felt joyfully familiar even if you’d heard them for the first time.

Not long after, The Chats came on stage with practised nonchalance, as if they were born and raised there. Their low blood pressure did not match the high octane energy their set produced – the cool kids from Queensland had the crowd in their hands from their opening number How Many Do You Do to the apt closer, Temperature. They added a few new songs they’ve been introducing to polite society on their Endless Bummer tour with the Pist Idiots, including The Clap, and got Sydneysiders to chant a Queensland postcode "Four five seven three!!". Sydney roared with delight when they played their viral hit, Smoko, fitting it in it around other favourites like Bus Money and Do What I Want.

The Growlers came on stage to Men At Work’s Down Under, giving us the message they love Australia, and us (that’s it, right?). After two strong opening acts, the crowd was wired and shouted the lyrics. The Growlers kicked off their set with two crowd favourites, Night Ride, then straight onto Dope on a Rope without pause.

At times The Growlers seemed transfixed by their own music, as if they were just observing what might evolve as they kept playing. There wasn’t a lot of banter with the crowd, Brooks Nielsen and his five bandmates all watching and vibing off their own music. Nielsen’s dancing was charismatic, his relaxed but relentless energy surely causing some discomfort given he was wearing a preppy jumper and long trousers.

At times Nielsen would “flip it in reverse” and throw it to the crowd to sing his lyrics back and they obliged – most notably in Love Test.

The set was two hours long, which was perhaps too much – there were several moments during the set where it felt like it could end and everyone would have tucked themselves into bed, happy that they’d got their coin's worth. Part-way through Kirin J Callinan joined the band on stage, and like a shot of caffeine revived the last quarter of the set.

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For the encore, Brooks Nielsen and Matt Taylor came on without the rest of the band to play a pared down and beautiful Nevaeh, followed by Derka Blues, during which the rest of the band returned and joined in, including Callinan. The Growlers provided two last spiritual highs, with I’ll Be Around, before finishing a long but next-to-flawless set with Going Gets Tough. Callinan and Nielsen dove trustingly into the crowd, Nielsen waving from his 'seat' like royalty.

The Growlers have an uncritically devoted fan base in Sydney, who remained engaged and rapturous throughout the night. ‘Beach goth’ accurately captures their sound and the joy and melancholy they provided.