Sub89, Reading
14 May 2012

Surf / Garage rock band band Howler have been receiving quite a bit of attention recently with people likening them to The Strokes & The Vaccines. They recently played a date in Reading & Paul Stephens was there to see it.

It’s all a bit awkward as Howler wander on stage a band member shouts “Has anyone seen our drummer”¦?”

A few nervous glances are exchanged across the stage, as guitarist Ian Nygaard nervously asks his frontman ”ËœEr”¦ know any Bob Dylan songs?’

”ËœI know all of them’.

The sticksman eventually arrives and the band click into gear with ”ËœAmerica’. The noise is incredible, filling the gaps in Reading’s Sub89 venue, which is far from sold out ”“ and that’s a shame, because this is a band with promise. Championed by the NME, Howler are in the midst of a lengthy world tour in support of debut album America Give Up, an energised 32 minutes of no nonsense rock and roll, drawing critical comparisons to the likes of The Strokes and The Vaccines.

They burst through the album opener, ”ËœBeach Sluts’, before a brief change of pace – ”ËœToo Much Blood’ is fuzzed-out guitar bliss, and shows there’s more than one string to Howler’s bow. Normal service is resumed, however, with the excellent ”ËœThis One’s Different’.

Frontman Jordan Gatesmith plays and sings with passion, but between songs is quieter than expected and interaction with the crowd is fairly minimal ”“ possibly down to all four members playing through illness, as Gatesmith later admits. The band motor through their album – they don’t have many songs, and rarely do they exceed three minutes, so this was never going to be a late night. They tear through the tracks, firing heart racing punk pop gems one after another.

The infectious ”ËœBack Of Your Neck’ (which you can stream above & download for free here) closes proceedings, and an over excited fan invades the stage, dancing furiously. The band lap it up, openly encouraging the fun, and it’s a nice way to end the evening. There’s no encore ”“ they don’t have enough songs.

Howler aren’t anything new or game changing, but then they’re not pretending to be. The album’s a solid debut and on tonight’s live evidence, they might just have a bright future”¦ and if they ever do a run through of gutter rock Dylan covers, I’m first in the queue.

All words Paul Stephens.

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