Words and Photos by Andrew DeThomas
“It’s been rad! A lot of sold out shows, playing a lot of the new stuff,” said Dan Duque-Perez, keys & guitar man for the alternative group, The Griswolds, just before their recent Austin tour stop at the Mohawk. “That drive from Phoenix to Austin was pretty brutal… oh god that was long,” Dan added with a chuckle as he caught me up on their Low Lives Tour experience so far.
I sat down with Dan and Tim John (Bassist bad-ass) of Sydney-based, The Griswolds, for a candid chat about their ongoing tour, the new album (High Times For Low Lives), and some offhand musings about what the hell is going on.
A headlining tour across the U.S. is a big deal for a group with foreign roots, Dan explained: “It’s hard being an Australian band coming to America, there’s a lot of things and people we don’t know.. It’s kind of like we’re forever an underdog.” And despite already breaking into the Billboard U.S. charts Dan noted, “It’s important for us to get up on stage and play the best shows that we can every night.”
Deciding which cities to hit this time around was a new experience Tim stated, “First time we’ve done it this way but we sort of mapped out our own way. We want to do this tour in cities we love.” Recounting their personal connections to the Texas capitol, both sort of grin as they confirm “Austin is our favorite city to play in, it’s like our second home.”
Inspiring The Low Life Tour was the November 2016 release of The Griswolds’ sophomore album High Times For Low Lives. According to the Tim and Dan, the new album is a departure from their breakout record, “It’s a commentary on what the world is like right now…it’s like all the biggest pieces of shit are killing it right now and the people that have good hearts that wanna do amazing things and change the world are being muted…we felt with this record, it was REALLY high times for low lives like us, really underdogging it ya know, and it’s our chance to share the hard stories and good times.”
However, come showtime at the Mohawk, the Griswolds were doing anything but “standing alone.” The outdoor stage was surrounded by a packed house, as the bill included Austin locals Modern Medicine, and Brooklyn-based Low Life Tour partners, DREAMERS, opening for The Griswolds.
Modern Medicine warmed up a particularly energetic crowd with a fast and steady set– synth melodies and a strong lyrical performance punctuated their rolling rock rhythm. The band’s mellow attitude and honest set flowed smoothly into their more dynamic and uptempo successors.
The indie rock trio, DREAMERS, hit the stage with a smooth coolness and some charged attitude – riding out on a Razor scooter, frontman and guitarist, Nick Wold, promised the crowd a good time. The guys had fans won over early in their set with their upbeat and sweet edgy sound. Much of the audience singing along to the group’s well-known hits including “Sweet Disaster” and “DRUGS”. Their performance was highlighted by the announcement of bassist Nelson’s recent engagement to his fiancee, just hours before the show.
Finally taking the stage for the main event, The Griswolds were met with the screams of an adoring audience. They had prepared a set half composed of their “classics” and half the new material from the recently released album. They bounced back and forth between anthemic, saccharine hits like “Beware The Dog,” “Down and Out,” and crowd favorite “Be Impressive,” and the more contemplative and slow-to-build sounds of album namesake “High Times For Low Lives” and “Out Of My Head.” A special shout out prefaced the new track “Birthday” as it was in fact drummer Lucky West’s birthday.
In addition to the raw energy of The Griswold’s sound, it’s worth mentioning the entertainment value of their action-packed set. From lead singer Chris Whitehall’s overhead guitar playing, mic stand swinging, and bass drum standing performance, to Tim’s non-stop bass strutting, and Dan’s poignant keys jamming.
Towards the end of their performance, The Griswolds cut the stage lights and requested some illumination assistance from the crowd, who happily obliged and surrounded the stage with their mobile phone flashlights as they closed out the show– a fitting end to The Griswolds’ lights out performance.
The Griswolds continue their Low Lives Tour, with some notable sold-out venues awaiting their arrival. Sharing a look into the future plans of these on-the-rise underdogs, Tim reveals, “We don’t know what the fuck we’re gonna do next and that’s cool.”
You can see more photos by Andrew of the Mohawk show here.
Andrew DeThomas is a concert photographer and writer based out of Austin, TX who is also starting his own creative development company.