SXSW 2012, Day 1: Howler

photo by Brittney Bollay

Minneapolis rockers Howler first caught the attention of a Rough Trade executive in 2011, when shortly after hearing a demo he hopped on a plane to Minnesota and promptly signed the band to the UK label. Later in the year they released their debut EP, This One’s Different, and early in 2012 they released their debut full-length, America Give Up. Led by 19-year-old Jordan Gatesmith, Howler play youthful, brash garage rock filled with breezy oooweeoooh harmonies that belie their Midwestern roots. Howler’s garage rock is nothing revolutionary, but they know how to rock and they do it with energy.

Playing to a impressive mid-morning crowd, Howler proved that they are indeed the epitome of garage rock. It isn’t hard to imagine the band’s five members crowded together in a confined space, determined to make as much noise as they possibly can, however they can. Even in the relatively spacious Mellow Johnny’s, Howler sounded like they were playing from within a tin box, as they emitted a shredding, guitar-centric wall of sound to go along with especially loud drums and frontman Jordan Gatesmith’s youthful wail. In between songs, Gatesmith and the rest of the band engaged plenty of banter with the crowd, even trying to convince Mellow Johnny’s to hook them up with a free bike. There was no response. By the end of the set, even more fans had straggled in to see Howler close out the performance with the single off America Give Up, “Back Of Your Neck.” If this performance was any indication, we’re in for an incredible next few days of music from Mellow Johnny’s. Make sure to stay tuned!

photo by Brittney Bollay

photo by Brittney Bollay

photo by Brittney Bollay

photo by Brittney Bollay

photo by Brittney Bollay

photo by Brittney Bollay

photo by Brittney Bollay

photo by Brittney Bollay

photo by Brittney Bollay

photo by Jim Bennett

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