BREVIEW: The Growlers @ O2 Academy 24.05.17

BREVIEW: The Growlers @ O2 Academy 24.05.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review




Words by Giles Logan / Pics by Rob Hadley

A disappointingly half full venue for the first show of The Growlers’ UK tour; what will the laconic extremists from Southern California make of it? No sweat. Lights dim, intro music and the band shuffle on stage in City Club macs (they must be melting) and instantly the dreary functionality of the O2 Academy transforms into what could be a Vegas lounge.

Let’s do this”, announces front man Brooks Nielsen and the band breeze easily into ‘Big Toe’ from 2014’s Chinese Fountain album – a trademark tune of uplifting misery, the breezy rhythm hosting a pained song of suicidal heartbreak. “She’s got me on the bridge looking down at the old cold river”. Who opens a set with a song about self destruction? This is the dark beauty of The Growlers. Their mischievous lyricism is delivered with a cute self referential nod and a wink; Nielsen has an enormous cheeky glint in his eye with lines such as “she can hex like a crow”. It’s a theme that runs through their music: hey guys, shit happens but we’ve got this.

The Growlers’ approach to set lists is a bit like their approach to genre, happily skitting from surf, rock blues and in the instance of ‘Hiding under The Covers’, from 2013’s Gilded Pleasures album, to a greasy cha-cha-cha through more heartbreak. “It’s hard to choose the right thing to do when you’re so in love”, croons Nielsen in that glorious West Coast drawl of his.

Coming off like a weird hybrid of Jim Morrison and Elvis, snake hipped Nielsen is a great front man. An infectious personality with an inviting smile he welcomes us into The Growlers world with honest warmth. “We’re going to rush through as many songs as we can before curfew, been a long time since we had a curfew”. The whole band posses an addictive enthusiasm and swagger; with major line up changes before last year’s City Club album fans baulked, but there is a collective energy and humour about them, shared smiles and laughter – they’re having fun if we have fun.

‘Naked Kids’ from The Growlers’ third album, Hung At Heart, with its gospel keyboard, is a rousing stab at redemption and enlightenment – “I picked myself above the ground” intones Nielsen with raw Southern pain, nowBREVIEW: The Growlers @ O2 Academy 24.05.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review minus his City Club mac and wearing the coolest bowling shirt we’ve ever seen. A rapt and youthful audience with arms aloft share in this sweaty epiphany; there’s even kids on shoulders, “go for it boys” smiles Nielsen.

One of the set highlights is ‘Night Ride’ from The Growlers’ latest album, City Club – a wickedly funky rhythm and a lingering, almost yearning, look back at memories of bacchanalian excess with a deliciously sing-a-long refrain:  “over and over and over again, till you can no longer pretend you are sane”. There is a charmingly shambolic nonchalance, as The Growlers enter a hazy reverie in a song that has been suggested is aimed at ex-members of the band.

With such an incredible back catalogue of material spread over five albums, the classics continue with the dreamy psychedelic sprawl of ‘Nobody Owns You’, the downbeat joy of ‘Too Many Times’ and a journey into the sleazy guilt of ‘Feelin’ Good’: “just cause it feels good, doesn’t mean it’s right”. There’s even an up tempo (ish) moment as playful keyboards guide us through ‘One Million Lovers’, as “something strange just takes over you”.

Well let’s fucking go”, threatens Nielsen as another set highlight growls into life: ‘Vacant Lot’, again from City Club. Harder edged than other tunes, it’s lumbering pile-driving riff joins a swirl of keyboard and tribal drums, really hammering home “like a bullet train”. Cue a mini mosh pit, mass sing-a-long “way down in the valley of the mud”. There’s even time for some human beat boxing, as the whole song is accompanied by epileptic levels of strobe.

Then as if to confuse us with their rampant eclecticism, The Growlers follow this with a disco-lite rendition of ‘Pet Shop Eyes’ and the dub bop happy ‘I’ll Be Around’ – a song that confounds with its major rock out chorus. “Ignorance is complacency”, too right. For those that didn’t catch The Growlers in Birmingham, you missed a classic.

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BPREVIEW: Ed Geater @ Hare & Hounds 24.03.17

BPREVIEW: Ed Geater @ Hare & Hounds 24.03.17 / Rob Hadley - Birmingham Review

Words by Ed King / Pics by Rob Hadley

On Friday 24th March, Ed Geater performs at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) with support from Bear + Dee Ajayi + Amy Louise Ellis.

Doors open at 7:30pm with tickets priced at £6 (+bf) – as presented by Birmingham Promoters. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.

Birmingham Review first saw Ed Geater just over two years ago, playing at the Sun at the Station in a showcase organised by Call Me Unique. On as a support act, Ed Geater left ‘possibly the biggest impression on me’ and Birmingham Review has been keeping a sly corner of an eye on him ever since.

A maelstrom of styles and influences, brought together with a soft confidence that pulls you into the stage, Ed Geater is worth a stop, look and listen no matter what your iTunes account says. And despite being a ‘lone singer/songwriter… a formula that, whilst arguably ubiquitous, is one less people can pull off than they realise’, Ed BPREVIEW: Ed Geater @ Hare & Hounds 24.03.17 / Rob Hadley - Birmingham ReviewGeater imprinted himself on our minds with ‘enough loops, beat boxing and overall originality to make me keep one eye on the future listings’. I’m using hyper links and avoiding pigeon holes.

Now Ed Geater is on the road with his first headline tour, visiting the venues and motorway hard shoulders of fair Albion as he enjoys (we hope, anyway) an increasingly exciting 2017. Big things on the horizon.

To read more about the wonderful world of Ed Geater, check out Giles Logan’s interview with Ed Geater for Birmingham Review – click here.

But 24th March is the homecoming show, so we’re saving all our cider shekels and garrulous commentary for the Hare & Hounds. The support lineup is strong too – with some tickling voices from Birmingham’s musical underbelly coming out to shout. Ed Geater is a vocal champion of the local music scene and has handpicked the varied artists with a keen eye and interest. Getting there early might not be a bad idea.

But if a picture speaks a thousand words a music video must be an unabridged version of War and Peace in Latin, so here’s a couple of MPEG tomes to save me having to describe anything further.

And if you still can’t land on an adjective… a crisp tenner will get you watching it live with a drink in your hand. Problem, solved.

Don’t Think – Ed Geater

Symmetry (Live Session) – Ed Geater

Ed Geater performs at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on Friday 24th March, with support from Bear + Dee Ajayi + Amy Louise Ellis – as presented Birmingham Promoters. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.

For more on Ed Geater, visit

For more from the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), including a full events programme and online ticket sales, visit

For more from Birmingham Promoters, visit


INTERVIEW: Ed Geater / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

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              Words by Giles Logan / Pics by Rob Hadley

In twelve short months Ed Geater has established himself as a firm part of the Birmingham music scene. Overcoming an initial anxiety about performing, his live gigs have become something of an event. With his trademark human beat boxing looped live over beautiful acoustic guitar melodies, and an earnest lyricism that recalls Jeff Buckley and Ben Howard, it’s a beguiling live adventure. On stage Ed Geater exudes a quiet and charming confidence that is hard to resist. He’s like that in person too; warm, honest and open. How did it all start?

I started beat boxing when I was about twelve,” tells Ed Geater. “A friend got me into Rahzel and I was just blown away it was a human making that noise. Because I’ve got naturally quite good rhythm I could imitate it even though I couldn’t do the sounds. At school it became a house party trick. I always enjoyed doing it and over the years I gradually improved. Eventually I improved the sounds I could do and I discovered that I really liked the percussive side of it. When I was at uni I had the idea of combining that with my guitar playing.”

Ed Geater possessed the talent but found it emotionally tough to perform and struggled with his early gigs. Anxiety would lead to cancelled shows and when he did push himself to get on stage he would feel helpless and begin shaking, struggling to overcome a dry throat and deliver his vocals. It was important to “keep going” though.

Most people that suffer with anxiety don’t get over it by performing on stage? “I would say that it’s the best way that I could’ve done it,” says Geater, “if I’d given in and gone on medication that’s probably a lifelong thing isn’t it? I was close to going on medication for depression but it just never felt right for me to do that. I found another more natural way to get through it. It’s been a personal journey. The whole point of me gigging constantly was to get over my anxiety issues. I had severe anxiety and a history of quite severe depression.”INTERVIEW: Ed Geater / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

Are you OK sharing such personal details? “I’m more than happy to share. It’s part of the story. I feel like some musicians find their talent and confidence from a very early age and they just go for it, for me that wasn’t the case. It was very very difficult for me to put myself out there; I had to really really try over a number of years to get over the many hurdles.”

Ed Geater’s friend and now manager, Tom Bradshaw-Smith, could see the improvement in his song writing, vocals and live performances at the tail end of 2015. A plan was drawn up to increase exposure and make his unique sound available to a wider audience. As plans go it was pretty successful, two EPs, a string of gigs – including a sell out at Mama Roux’s, and hearing his song ‘Symmetry’ played to a capacity crowd at Villa Park. Not a bad year’s work. And as the old adage goes, success breeds confidence.

INTERVIEW: Ed Geater / Rob Hadley – Birmingham ReviewThis confidence is apparent in the leap from the first, almost stark, Barriers EP to the slicker and more adventurous Unseen EP alongside the radio friendly pop of his single ‘Symmetry’. “I think that’s just me as a producer improving,” explains Ed Geater. “I love electronic producers and that influences me more than singer songwriters, like Bonobo and Four Tet, all these guys who do creative slightly more out there alternative electronic music with an ambient mellifluous sound to it, that’s the sound I try to create with my guitar and my beat boxing. When I produce I produce with that whole thing in mind.”

And what of creative ‘process’, how does an Ed Geater song get born? “I don’t really have a set structure to writing. Sometimes I will have a riff idea, start to write a melody over it and then write some lyrics to it. I find lyrics come quite spontaneously, I just write down my thoughts. It’s been a therapy, a lot of my songs, my thought patterns, whatever’s going on in here (points to head) I get down and try and make sense of it.”

Using gestalt therapy and meditation helped Ed Geater overcome his anxiety; there is an acknowledgement that anyone can judge him these days and, most pertinently, that’s OK. “Anything anyone thinks about me has got everything to do with them and nothing to do with me,” tells Geater. “It’s their lens and their ego created by everything they have been through and there’s nothing I can do about that so I can’t judge them for it either.” It’s a self assuredness that is palpable in his live shows; there is a friendly swagger about an Ed Geater performance, a INTERVIEW: Ed Geater / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Reviewcharming inclusivity that was memorable during his sell out show at Mama Roux’s in October 2016. “It was like a ride,” remembers Geater, “and when it finished it didn’t feel like I’d done it. The creativity was flowing through me. It’s a high that I love and whenever I play I get it.”

Ed Geater declares a love of variety and a desire to not be “tied down by a single genre”. In the 2017 pipeline is a collaboration with local ‘emcee with a message’ Lady Sanity, plus the small matter of a national tour with a headline show at the Hare and Hounds on 24th March. These are good times for Ed Geater and good times for the Birmingham music scene he talks about with an infectious passion and enthusiasm.

“I’m really excited to get the single with Lady Sanity out in the summer,” tells Ed Geater, running through his roll call of local luminaries. “Also Call Me Unique, I’ve just produced her EP which will be released later this year. Pleasure House are great guys and a great band, Alex Rainsford is a really great singer songwriter, the rapper Vital is really hard working. Bear, DEE Ajayi and Amy Louise Ellis who are playing with me at the Hare and Hounds. Hannah Brown is a great girl with a lovely voice. My other recommendations are Sam Jackson, Dame, Cinema, Youth Man, Elektrik and Namiwa Jazz.” Ed Geater texted following the interview with more Birmingham musical shout outs; his commitment to the local scene is clear.

But as celebratory and positive as his plans are, Ed Geater’s ‘story’ possesses a difficult truth for a lot of performers – the musical talent was there, but the ability to express it was hampered by self doubt, anxiety and depression. But it also shows that all ‘hurdles’ can be overcome.

There is no time limit on chasing your dreams,” concludes Ed Geater. “I hope something about my story will resonate with people and create awareness of mental health issues.”

‘Symmetry’ / Ed Geater

Ed Geater begins his national UK tour on Thursday 9th March, with a headline show at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on 24th March – with support from Bear + Dee Ajayi + Amy Louise Ellis, as presented by Birmingham PromotersFor direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.

For more on Ed Geater, visit


For more information on some of the issues discussed in this interview, check out the following links:

Mind /

Rethink /

Time For Change /

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