It was wise that the members of Grouplove decided to wear sneakers on the night of Oct. 6; the Los Angeles five-piece band probably burned the calories equivalent to a half marathon. Injected with insane live energy, Grouplove’s radio-friendly indie pop melted the collective stress in the ballroom of the Fox Theater. Think what you want; there’s no denying that Grouplove, simply put, makes people happy.
After the band settled into place, Christian Zucconi bent over a tiny piano, his fingers gliding over the keys to the intro of “I’m With You,” the dramatic opener off sophomore record Spreading Rumors. The sprawling song served as a fitting warm-up and a preview of the night ahead. As the gentle piano gave way to a driving beat, Hannah Hooper immediately started running in place and during the chorus, she and Zucconi smashed their foreheads together and sang into each other’s faces.
Grouplove’s playful image itself was enough to defy any kind of doubt that the night was going to be stale. Singer Hooper and her husband lead guitarist Zucconi coordinated their looks with faded dye in their hair (bubblegum pink for Hooper and cyan for Zucconi) and similar white dresses with their own personal twists: Hooper went for an all-lace Victorian-esque gown and Zucconi paired his short white dress with an olive army jacket and loose, distressed 90s jeans underneath.
Grouplove’s set, comprised of exactly half-old and half-new material from its latest effort Big Mess, was nonstop animation. Performed relatively early on, the four-year-old chart-topping single “Tongue Tied” promptly attracted dozens of phones set to Snapchat and brought the Fox’s floor shaking as everyone in the crowd jumped up and down. The incredibly danceable “Do You Love Someone” from Big Mess was punctuated with guitarist Andrew Wessen and bassist Daniel Gleason smashing tom-toms together and Zucconi spinning around, his white dress twirling along with him. By the time the chorus exploded, the concert got its very first crowd surfer. Zucconi and Hooper, in the midst of their lively theatrics, looked at each other for a second and shared a smile.
For much of the show, technicality took a backseat to volume; Hooper and Zucconi’s strident vocals were sometimes akin to scratchy screaming and shouting at rather than singing to the audience. This kind of unpolished, imperfect expression, however, suited the exuberant Grouplove ethos the best. Each story Grouplove told via live renditions of its songs, whether it be acid trips or coming to terms with monumental life changes, was fueled with a passion so invigorating that the band demanded fans to completely submerge themselves in the present.
Grouplove’s banter with the crowd was kept to a minimum, save for the San Francisco-raised Hooper (“It feels so good to be back home!” she hoarsely shouted). Thankfully, the band’s onstage antics and synergy reassured the audience of the knowledge that it was having just as much fun. And with four out of five members with moppy hair, at least one member was head-banging, hair swinging in their face at any given moment.
Twice, Grouplove strayed from its departure from its three-album repertoire, amounting to some mixed results. The slower “Let Me In,” a song Grouplove delivered for The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack, felt repetitive after the similarly paced “Spinning,” thereby dampening the tender effect that had blanketed the crowd. Grouplove’s other wild card, however, was an anarchically fun cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” which turned out to be the group’s most spirited performance. Screaming members ran, chased and crashed into each other as they flailed on stage. Zucconi, at one point, dropped the mic and executed a sloppy half-cartwheel before collapsing on the ground.
Before closing with “Colours,” a classic Grouplove number, Zucconi exclaimed “There is Grouplove here in this room. It’s a band, it’s a lifestyle.” The audience took the hint; strangers turned to strangers and danced together.
“We do it for love,” shouted Zucconi and Hooper, the final line of “Colours.” “Sweet love.” And with that, Grouplove ditched its instruments, met up on center stage, and took a messy bow as one.