Grouplove delivers high energy show at The Sinclair
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 03:10
“Yeah I’d rather be a hippy than a hipster, what! / Yeah I’d rather leave my spirits for everyone.” These lyrics from “Hippy Hill” off of Grouplove’s new release, “Spreading Rumors” (2013), are fitting words for the L.A.-based indie band. On Sept. 22 at Cambridge’s The Sinclair, lead vocalists Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper took to the stage, decked out in a leopard robe and cheetah bodysuit, respectively. Clearly, Grouplove is a free-spirited band. But beyond showing off its eccentric persona, Grouplove knows how to put on a show. Channeling their ironically literal wild sides, the group members screamed, jumped, danced and crawled — all at no cost to their infectious sounds. The way Grouplove manages to make raw vocals catchy through smoother pop synths sets them up to produce the perfect “fun” concert: and that’s just what they delivered.
Best known for its song “Tongue Tied,” Grouplove has only recently come into the indie-pop scene, having released its first album “Never Trust a Happy Song” in 2011. And although the contagious head-bopping sensation of the hook “Take me to your best friend’s house / Go around this roundabout” is much of what they are famous for, the majority of the group’s songs are surprisingly mature and complex. Such sound has been preserved in its second record and, thus, the show’s blending of both albums did not lead to a jarring difference as it flipped from old songs to new.
After jumping onto the stage, the band opened with “I’m With You,” an energetic tune, which — while not particularly memorable — riled up the audience. Yet the true kick off began with the fifth song: a sure-to-be-stuck-in-your-head jam from “Spreading Rumors” called “Shark Attack.” Starting with an intense staccato sound, the audience jumped in sync with Hooper and the blue light show dancing across the back wall. After this invigorating peak, Zucconi tossed his robe aside and continued the performance in a plain white tee and ripped, shaggy jeans. Then Grouplove took on the challenge of playing two of its tamer pieces back-to-back. On “Hippy Hill” and “Naked Kids” the group proved that slow is by no means lackluster.
Later, Grouplove made a seamless transition, with guitarist Andrew Wessen taking over vocals, to the track “Spun.” He quickly took reigns of the mic, with a more fast-paced and bolder voice than Zucconi’s, and his controlled and powerful singing only left concertgoers wanting more. Though “Tongue Tied” and “Bitin’ the Bullet,” a new, thumping song during which the audience was invited to “stomp the ground until the floor shakes,” were highlights of its closing set, there was a tangible lack of closure when the band walked off stage the first time.
However, Grouplove returned to the crowd’s delight, playing an incredibly tight encore that squandered any feelings of dissatisfaction. Ending with three booming, catchy and popular songs — “Itchin’ on a Photograph,” “Ways to Go” and “Colours,” the show finished in a hysteric wave of excitement and power. There was also something incredibly poignant in the fact that the band ended the show with its first-ever single.
Throughout the concert, Grouplove didn’t just deliver quality music — it also brought personality. During the show, the atmosphere of The Sinclair was somehow both mellow and buoyant. There were moments of sheer freedom when spectators flipped their hair and shook their torsos, and then there were moments when it was much more rewarding to simply watch the band members move — and move they did. From Hooper’s high kicks and hearty smiles to drummer Ryan Rabin’s standing solo with glow-in-the-dark drumsticks, the band seemed to be having just as much fun as the audience.
A show that brings this much energy and excitement to the stage is truly rewarding for both the audience and the performers. To be able to head bang with the band, watch the lead vocalist crawl on the stage as she nailed the notes and twist in such an open, free-loving atmosphere can be an absolute treat. With Grouplove, these moments are guaranteed. Indie fans don’t always have the opportunity to let loose in such vibrant ways, and Grouplove is a guilty exception to the genre — creating a full concert experience that engaged all the senses in a highly satisfying way.