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The Growlers Open Lollapalooza's Red Bull Soundstage

On a sunny afternoon – 12:45 p.m., to be exact – Southern California psychedelic surf rock band The Growlers began Lollapalooza’s opening performance of the Red Bull Soundstage.

That same venue will host current festival overlords the Black Keys a mere eight hours later, which is coincidental considering Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach produced their forthcoming album.

But during The Growlers’ 45 minutes, they commanded it well.

Their brand of psychedelia recalled the 1960s, when black lights and lava lamps were commonplace and everything was groovy.

Brooks Nielsen’s cryptic lyrics and Jim Morrison-esque croon are a big part of that comparison.  The band keeps the groove moving with an extra percussionist on a bongo and throbbing basslines.

The Growlers drew from all three of their albums – the third is scheduled to come out later this year – with highlights coming in the form of the tongue-in-cheek “Wet Dreams” from 2009′s Are You In Or Are You Out and “Badlands” off their 2010 record, Hot Tropics.

One lowlight was a song called “People Don’t Change” that featured lead guitarist Matt Taylor on vocals.  Unfortunately, his mic wasn’t turned up, but that’s hardly the band’s fault.

All in all, however, The Growlers were spot on.  For a single set, the audience was taken to a place where people in the right mindset would see mirages during their walks along the SoCal beaches while listening to “Riders on the Storm.”

Considering the heat coming off the black Chicago pavement this weekend, that might continue.

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