As an 80-year-old soul trapped in the frame of a temperamental, teenage college kid, I prefer the enticing comfort of my snug bed to going out to a concert on a bitterly cold night. So when The Triangle’s photo editor, Ajon Brodie, offered a ticket to a certain Grouplove’s show, I was hesitant to accept it. The unwelcome snow that night served as icing on the cake to my already absent enthusiasm. Little did I know that as the night would turn out, I would transform into a Grouplove devotee, mechanically chanting their melodic lyrics with hundreds of other spellbound hippies.
The March 25 show was presented by Radio 104.5 at the Electric Factory and had a huge turnout. The openers, Alex Winston and MS MR, had the crowd cheering wildly to their upbeat vocals and catchy rhythms. The exhilaration only burgeoned as one particularly animated fan tossed her bra onto the stage to express her excitement.
The MS MR cover of “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys was especially commendable. Lizzy Plapinger, the MS MR front-woman, has a sensationally husky voice that added a new dimension to the down-tempo track.
After a 20-minute interlude, the stage was quickly occupied by the much-awaited Grouplove quintet. The Los Angeles band, formed in 2009, rose to prominence with their edgy pop sound, infectious melodies and quirky music. The band established themselves by touring nonstop and delivering hit singles like “Colours” and “Tongue-tied,” the latter of which earned them a Recording Industry Association of America platinum certification.
As soon as the band stepped onstage, the entire place revved up. The energy was contagious. Hannah Hooper, the band’s lead vocalist and keyboardist, possessed an unearthly aura as she enchanted her hippie cult with her coquettish vocals and shimmering attire. Amid resisting my sudden homoerotic urges, I noticed Christian Zucconi (vocalist, guitarist) crooning “I’m With You” from the band’s sophomore album “Spreading Rumors” in his vibrant, indie demeanor.
The smoky set mixed with the psychedelic colors transformed the place into a musical (and very neon) madhouse with fans roaring and singing along to hit singles like “Shark Attack,” “School Boy” and “Itchin’ on a Photograph.” Zucconi had the crowd eating out of his hand after a few fervent howls expressing his love for Philadelphia. Hooper and Zucconi headbanged and hopped with hundreds of fans following suit. Grouplove drove the place into an ecstatic frenzy that only grew with every song they played.
One of the most astonishing moments of the night was when the band played “Tongue-tied” from their debut album “Never Trust a Happy Song.” One could feel the love spread as Grouplove weaved a buoyant spell over the place. The fans filled the deliberate pauses by singing the lyrics out loud to flaunt their affection and devotion for the band. The band also played quirky songs like “Raspberry” (which, they announced, is something they do only with “a crowd they trust”) and uncanny tracks like “Bitin’ the Bullet” and “Beans on Pizza.”
After playing a few more songs, the quintet abruptly abandoned the stage only to reappear a few minutes later. Zucconi cartwheeled back onstage with his indie troopers in tow. The group finally ended the show with one of their most popular singles, “Colours.” It was admirable how the band managed to keep their loyal fan base entertained and asking for more despite the dismal weather outside. I am convinced it was their pure, unadulterated “group love” that allured people to stay the entire time.