America Give Up, indeed. Since the Strokes and the long-lost Libertines have lost their relevancy, perhaps we do need a new bunch of 19-year-olds to shake up the basics of rock and roll for the younger set, proving that there’s still plenty to be said for rollicking choruses, simple guitar chords and comedic banter. Howler is clearly cocky frontman Jordan Gatesmith’s project, though his band mates Ian Nygaard (guitar), France Camp (bass), Max Petrek (keyboards) and Brent Mayes (drums) are the perfect backdrop, filling out Howler’s sound and making the set come alive like a boys’ bratty party on stage.

It seems Gatesmith has done a fine job of studying the best of his fellow Rough Traders and allowing some of their traits to sink in. At times, his comedic ease and banter with the crowd and his band mates comes across as a teenage, brassier Adam Green or Julian Casablancas, and his guitar-wielding swagger recalls Pete Doherty in the early Libs days. Touring the UK with Brit pop punk darlings, the Vaccines, has probably been a stellar “watch and learn” time for these young Minneapolitans as well, though instead of hearkening to British 70′s punk, Howler takes on more of a Ramones’ NYC edge and fuses it with the sunnier “ooh ahh” harmonies of Phil Spector’s 60s pop stalwarts.

“They’re so 19-years-old,” my rock savvy friend says, and her boyfriend, (a many-years drummer for various bands), agrees, adding that Gatesmith’s vocal skills, yes, kinda suck, at least tonight. But… Howler, as a band, knows how to get the crowd under their spell. Whether it’s the between-song jokey references to the keyboardist’s petite stature, equating that with his ability to hold a bass guitar, (yes, ye olde penis ref!), or equating their darkest, growling song to a Norwegian Death Metal tune (I wish), it actually works.

Even when frontman Gatesmith rolls up his feined rock and roll sleeves to portray a rockabilly youth with soft arms, it comes across as cool to the under-twenty set in the crowd, and that’s who’s buying the records these days, they say… It’s all for the youngest gals and guys in the audience, and that’s what matters tonight, being that it’s a full-fledged all-ages show.  But, even as one who’s “older and wiser”, I still like Howler a lot, and would see them again. Let’s see how they stand the true test of time. Long live rock!

Photos by Alyssa Kazew