On Sunday August 28th, San Francisco’s historic Great American Music Hall — built in 1907, after the 1906 earthquake — hosted an intimate evening with Brooks Nielsen as part of the One Match Left debut tour. This was the sixth show of Brooks Nielsen’s debut as a solo act without The Growlers. For those unaware, The Growlers made some serious psychedelic indie rock, creating the genre termed as “beach goth” for themselves. The band began in 2006 in the beach town of Dana Point, California and, from 2009-2019, released a total of nine albums. This was my third time seeing Brooks, as I had seen The Growlers play two times over the years, including at The Rickshaw Stop located in San Francisco in 2012 and The Catalyst Club in Santa Cruz in 2016. My favorite thing about The Growlers was that album after album, they were always changing their sound in a new way — making each album unique.
Upon hearing Brooks’ new solo album, One Match Left, my initial reaction was, ‘Oh boy, he did it again!’ Every song has a slightly different sound, almost as if from a different time period. Brooks Nielsen has a one-in-a-million voice and can pull off these different styles with ease.
When I saw Brooks was playing near me, I had to check it out because I was sure he would intermix old songs with the new and, man, I was correct.
One thing I did not plan for, though, was that there would be no opener. This was a much welcomed surprise, as it allowed for more songs from both Brooks’ and The Growlers’ catalogs. The highlight of the night for me was when Brooks and his band played my favorite song from the new album “How Do You Like It So Far (This Life)?”, because it reminds me of the early years of Bob Marley & The Wailers. The show all-in-all was a very special treat; the venue was a lot smaller than I remember it being many years ago when I was last here and was at only half capacity, which left plenty of room for dancing. Once the show was over, there was one group that kept the party going with a dance-off that was quite entertaining to watch. Don’t miss Brooks Nielsen if he comes to a town near you, because it’s guaranteed to be a good time!
Photography by Katey Schoenberger