"It's hot and sweaty and there's elbows everywhere, but none of that matters."
It's a toasty Friday night all about Brisbane and inside The Zoo is looking to be no exception, with a sold-out venue for Californian dreamers The Growlers, who are finally here on the Australian leg of their City Club tour.
But before we can truly know what sweaty pit awaits us upstairs, we first must adventure through the swollen line of eager fans stretching far down Ann Street.
It takes an age to get to the front of the line and as a result we miss most of the opening band, Nice Biscuit. Their psych-trance sounds echo down from the open windows above and there's some hip shaking and foot tapping happening as the line inches slowly forward, minute after minute. Finally, we're past security and we run upstairs in time to see Nice Biscuit's tambo-tapping frontwomen up on stage in signature complementary outfits. Their layered vocals hypnotise the energetic crowd moving below them like an ocean, although towards the end of their set you can almost feel the electric excitement begin to buzz through the air in anticipation for the main event.
The Zoo is like a furnace with the number of people they've managed to squeeze up here. There's a line of people at the merch desk, waiting not only to buy a shirt from an amazing band but also just another shirt to wear that isn't covered in sweat. The queue for water is sometimes as big as the line for the bar. The throng of bodies pressed tightly together at the front of the venue doesn't let up, and we can't help but grow apprehensive that the heat will only get worse. With the good times come the bad, we guess. We duck downstairs for some fresh air; a calm before the storm.
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We're barely outside for two minutes before the raw, invigorating voice of The Growlers' frontman Brooks Nielsen is calling us back to the stage, and the flurry of people who had the same idea as us struggle to squeeze past the line (which is still stretched as far as the convenience store up the road). We make it back up within a few minutes and cram ourselves as deep into the belly of the crowd as we can make it. It's hot and sweaty and there's elbows everywhere, but none of that matters because it finally washes over us: The Growlers right in front of us and this is the greatest moment in our lives.
We dance along for an age, through songs Dope On A Rope, I'll Be Around and Love Test, with the entire venue seeming to lose it. A quick check of the watch shows that the band has already been playing for an hour and yet there's no sign of stopping. We break away and head back to the bar, this time choosing a slightly less crowded spot to watch the band, instead of front and centre with the die-hard fans braving the sticky mass of bodies.
How do they do it? They've been playing for so long and yet it's as if they've only just walked on stage. You can see a small trickle of sweat on Nielsen's forehead, but they're all still so full of energy and eccentricity. We duck outside for some more air, head upstairs for a drink, have a dance, go back downstairs and upstairs again, and they're still playing. It's never-ending. By the time the final, lingering tones of their last song have finished echoing through the venue, it's been two and a half hours. It's another half an hour before we manage to squeeze our way through the crowd of people all trying to leave at once. It's hours after that this writer can still hear maybe the best gig ever still echoing in their head.