Concert Review: Grouplove

Ian Birnam/Staff

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: crowds just aren’t what they used to be. With the exception of handful of people, crowds at concerts just don’t rock out and bounce around as much as they used to. It can be disheartening for a band too, where the activity and energy of the crowd is a lull except for the applause and cheers after each song. Thankfully, this was not the case for Grouplove, as they had everyone from the groupies in the front to the bar hogs in the back jumping and screaming throughout the Fillmore.

The crowd was even responsive to the somewhat mellow openers Alt-J. Though they lacked the stage ferocity of Grouplove, the crowd still roared after each song as the band swayed on the stage. Once Grouplove took over, though, the floor became a dance pit of overjoyed fans singing along to each song.

The band played track after track from their album Never Trust a Happy Song, opening with the nasally warbles and muted guitar chucks of singer/guitarist Christian Zucconi on “Itchin’ on a Photograph.” The band’s energy built up with the song, as the lone guitar was reinforced by Ryan Rabin’s thunderous drums and Hannah Hooper’s light, sweet backup vocals.

Just when you thought the band had a formula, lead guitarist Andrew Wessen picked up a ukulele and took on lead vocals for the three part vocal harmony and lighthearted appeal of “Spun.” Soon after, bassist Sean Gadd stole the vocal limelight with the foot stompin’ grooves of “Chloe.” While each band member had a different vocal approach, they all complimented each other through their catchy harmonies. Wessen’s screams, Gadd’s snappy, baritone quips and Zucconi’s high-pitched refrains all worked into each song, fitting together seamlessly. Hooper’s vocals were what glued them all together, as her charming background vocals fit into every gap left by the other band members. Hooper got to shine on her own though when the band broke into the mellow melodies of “Slow,” which Hooper, a San Francisco native, dedicated to her family, who came to see her.

Closing down with their single “Tongue Tied” and “Colours,” the roof of the Fillmore was ready to burst from the crowd’s dissipating energy. Although their set was just around 90 minutes long, the band made a lasting impression on the crowd as everyone departed, craving just one more song from the eclectic band. What’s their formula? How were they able to get the audience that pumped? Was it the flowers and vines on every mic stand, and the flashing lamp decor over the stage? Was it the instrument and vocal swaps? Perhaps it was a little bit of each, but when a band is as fired up and brightly animated as Grouplove, its hard not to get caught up in the vivacious flurry. Just make sure you’re head doesn’t fall off.