Los Angeles punk crew hit a sweet spot between hedonism and poignancy on a multi-layered second album
Buffalo, Cardiff, January 27th
Howler take the stage looking like the American dream, all perfect dentistry and cheekbones that would leave even The Drums feeling jealous. Then they leave the stage, only to return minutes later missing their bassist. Lead singer Jordan Gatesmith grabs the mic. “Get onstage,” he yells over the crowd. “He's such a shithead.”
After a couple of minutes - and with all members now accounted for - they crash in to ‘America’, and flood the venue with warm, Strokes-indebted guitars. If we’re talking frontmen, though, indebted is probably too shy a word, Gatesmith being more or less to Casablancas what Borrell was to Doherty. When he drops the guitar and writhes off the mic stand with a bottle of Jack Daniel's swinging in his hand, the comparison is unavoidable.
But the Minneapolitans are an impressive live entity, with the likes of ‘Back Of Your Neck’ sounding more accomplished than on record. It’s their in-between-song banter and racily affable stage personae that truly win the crowd over. Gatesmith passes his whisky amongst the front row, cracks jokes too risque to be repeated, and quips and smiles his way through the set. It’s unpretentious, exciting, and most importantly, it’s fun.
The debut album is out there. The live show backs it up. It’s only a matter of time before we’ll be comparing the next run of boys in bands to Howler.
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