OUT: Swaggerin' Growlers tour kickoff at Midway

More photos here.

I recall reading something local-music guru Shred said about how people tend to go see their friends’ bands and neglect all else. Even as a semi-professional music scribe, I have a similar bad habit — which is one reason I’ve written multiple features and reviews on the exquisite riot-folk contraption that is the Swaggerin’ Growlers. For all practical purposes, I’ve composed their press kit, and it’d be pretty redundant for me to harp on how hard they killed it Saturday afternoon at the Midway, and what a blast the two-month tour they’re schlepping out on is going to be for everyone involved.

This kickoff show for said tour had its glitches. The turnout was ample, but mostly too mature for any worthwhile moshing. (The Red Line Rebels — who were enjoying their debut public performance as the show’s openers — played so loud that people complained.) The Morgan Knockers were under the impression that the show started at 6 pm and thus arrived late, but they compensated with a deliciously strident punk rawk detonation.

To my great disappointment, the advertised Jake and the Infernal Machine did not perform. To my pleasant surprise, dual sets of the Old Edison’s dolefully edifying unplugged folk made up for Jake’s absence. It seems too easy to point out the early Against Me!–meets–Tom Waits parallel, but Old E’s guitarist/singer/harmonica player actually kind of looks like Tom Gabel, and they carry on Waits’s corroded yet pretty songwriting and Against Me!’s harmonized shouting.

Before their set, I announced to whoever was listening, “Faulty Conscience are about to play. I need another beer.” FC were tastefully adorned with matching T-shirts, and if that wasn’t self-referential enough, they unleashed a new song sporting the chorus “My name is Jonny Swagger” to segue into “Pirate Song.” I wrote down “rar, rar, barking dog” to describe the vocal approach of Chestnut P. Growler, who splits his time between co-fronting FC and drumming for the Growlers and is the only musician I know who can say “I wrote this song in prison and I stole the title from a comic book” with the utmost sincerity.

-- Barry Thompson

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