GROUPLOVE Performance Leaves A Mark on Philly

Philly’s hip venue Underground Arts, hosted music’s hippest indie band, Grouplove on Monday night. The band stayed in town after Saturday night’s driven performance at Union Transfer, for a special acoustic set finale in the Loft District.

Upon arrival at Underground Arts, a line of tattooed, bandanna-wearing hipsters filtered outside, waiting anxiously for the doors to open. After zig-zagging down the stairs to get into the actual venue, high beams, dim lights, and loft-like features give Underground Arts the perfect ambiance for music in an intimate setting.

The sounds of Neutral Milk Hotel, Radiohead, and Nirvana set the mood while the crowd waited almost an hour for the opening band, The Rubens. Although the show didn’t begin until 8 p.m., the audience was entertained by the bar, swag stands, and a live art exhibit where an artist worked on guitars to the side of the stage.

Underground Arts has made a name for creating the ultimate artistic experience to its audiences, by combining visual art exhibitions and a variety of performance types. In theory, the two aide one another in providing an immersive experience for viewers, and help promote up-and-coming artists.

It was finally time for the opening act, The Rubens. These five likable Aussies are quickly becoming known in the States, as there was already a fan base cheering them throughout their 8 song set. Fog and blinking lights accompanied the band as they set the mood with their chill, alternative sound, set off by a bluesy keyboard and front man Sam Margin’s soulful voice. Their sound is pretty reminiscent of The Black Keys, but is still unique enough to set them apart. Songs worth checking out include: “Lay It Down”, “The Day You Went Away”, “My Gun”, and “Cut Me Loose”, a new song not featured on their self-titled album which was released two weeks ago.

After a successful set, The Rubens thanked the crowd and Margin gave a warm welcome to the main attraction: “Enjoy Grouplove, the best, funnest band we’ve ever toured with.”

Grouplove has a devoted crowd of followers, which I would like to dub, “GROUPIES”. GROUPIE Brittany from The Poconos, has been to approximately five of their shows, and drives all the way out to New York City and Philadelphia for each performance, including this one. “I was at the show on Saturday at Union Transfer as well”, she said. “[Grouplove] just has such a crazy, good energy that is so different. I’m most excited to see them perform “Colour” and “Shark Attack”‘!”

After a 20 minute intermission, Grouplove took the stage and opened up with a dramatic setting of dim lamps and “I’m With You”, the first single off their new album Spreading Rumours, which was released in September.

Each song in itself held the crowd in a happy trance, but lead singer Christian Zucconi’s voice doesn’t even compare. His cute screams and raspy bellows made fans crazy, while Hannah Hooper (vocals/keys) pumped everyone up with fun dance moves, dressed in leather leggings, white converse high-tops, and a leopard tunic.

The next two songs, “Itchin’ On A Photograph” and “Raspberry” really put everyone in a feel-good mood. In between “Raspberry” and “Schoolboy”, Zucconi revealed his love for Philly. “You guys are so awesome!” he said. “Two nights ago was the best show of the tour!”

The band’s 18 song set progressed with more upbeat and fun tunes off both albums, Never Trust A Happy Song and Spreading Rumors. It was kind of ironic that when the band played their praised song, “Hippy Hill”, all the 20-something hipsters in the crowd sang passionately along with the chorus, “And I’d rather be a hippy than a hipster…” Of course, nothing could stop the crowd from being pulled in by the energy exuded from the stage. Not even the security or bartenders.

This energy expanded, especially for songs like “Ways to Go”, “Tongue Tied”, “Shark Attack”, and “Colours”. In between “Lovely Cup” and the grand closer, “Colours”, the band played a brand new song that Zucconi said they wrote in Rittenhouse Square a few nights ago. The fun tune hit close to the fans hearts as the word Philadelphia was sung in the chorus repeatedly. The song may also be expanded and put on an album according to the band–stay tuned for that Philly!

Of course “Colours” ended the night with a bang, but that didn’t seem to satisfy the audience. After the members took a grand bow, and high-fived some on their way out, it wasn’t even five minutes that they were backstage when a huge standing ovation was given. Fans chanted “One More Song!” for about ten minutes, while the band discussed returning. Zucconi had just changed his sweaty shirt and seemed ambivalent backstage. However, the crowd was able to revive the band, and Hooper said on stage, “We weren’t even gonna come back out. But you guys kept it up for so long, so we were just like fuck it!”

Grouplove chose “Bitin’ The Bullet” for their encore. After seeing a fan crowd-surf during this bouncy tune, Zucconi decided he would crowd-surf as well. The fans reciprocated the energy given to them, and there was not one person that didn’t look elated. After six or seven minutes of this new song, the band took their finale bow, and thanked the crowd one last time.

There is much to be said for a band who can pull energy through a 19 song set, even during their not-so-known tunes. After watching these guys perform live, I now know why Grouplove has the absolute best energy you can experience during a show. GO, SEE GROUPLOVE, experience them for yourself.  Their next closest show is Nov. 8 at American University in D.C. Maybe you too will become a “GROUPIE”…

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