Last weekend, self proclaimed hippies-over-hipsters, Grouplove, took the stage in preparation for three days of back-to-back-to-back sold out shows at the 9:30 Club. For anyone who has never attended a sold out show at the 9:30 club, it gets PACKED. I mean, regardless of being in the top section or lower section, standing room in a sold out show means casually touching the person on either side of you. Most of the time, it doesn’t actually get this way until the headliner comes on. And if you were one of those people that only showed up at 9:30 for Grouplove, you truly missed out on a dope set. The show, start to finish, was nothing less than incredible.
Smallpools, a four-piece indie newcomer, certainly changed my mind about opening acts. They not only sounded great, but also had a lively and upbeat stage performance with a charming singer. They recently released a four track EP, joking during the show that they played “all the songs they knew” within the first ten minutes of their set. I believe touring is the best time to test out new material because the people who show up are inevitably those who are looking forward to your new album–Smallpools did just that, trying out new and amazing songs. This is a band that’s going somewhere, and I assure you, they’re no one hit wonder. After only being together for a year, they’re already touring with Grouplove; they’re the real deal and they’re going to go far.
MSMR truly does some amazing things as a duo. Their sound is so full and majestic that it’s hard to believe it only comes from two people. Vocalist Lizzy has the voice of an angel. Her outfit, black and white checkered pants and a matching jacket that somehow worked with her neon pink hair, made her look hot whereas I could never wear something like that and look sane. Her companion, Max, rocks hard on the keyboards and his dance moves show that he’s multitalented. I know we’re talking about the music here, but this guy moves like there aren’t bones in his body. Combined, they have an incredible dream-pop meets darkwave sound. They also sound great live, which is interesting because they sound heavily produced as opposed to being organic but they proved me wrong. What truly made me love their performance was their Live Lounge cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I Wanna Know”. A good cover is what separates the bands from the performers: a band can play good songs, but a great performer can take someone else’s work and make their own. And it wasn’t the only cover of the night.
Grouplove is Grouplove. They are by far one of the best bands I’ve seen perform live. They not only sound better than live than on their record, but they are also so upbeat and fun to watch. They make you dance. They make you sing. They even stop singing to listen to the entire crowd sing the chorus as though the music never stopped. They’re set included tracks off of Never Trust a Happy Song and Spreading Rumors, as well as an amazingly outlandish cover of Queen B’s “Drunk In Love”. Who expected that? I didn’t, but I recorded it so I could eventually become YouTube famous.
One of the things I love most about Grouplove is that their entire band is interactive. It is rare that a drummer will talk to the audience, never mind leave his drum kit. And their drummer, Ryan, is such a cool dude. He came out wearing a hoodie that lit up and used light up drum sticks during “Slow”, where he killed it, using a single drum and performing right up front with the rest of the band.
Grouplove’s onstage interaction between vocalists Christian and Hannah make the band fun to watch. when they dance, their energy seems to bounce off each other. Christian got so into it that he threw his guitar up into the air. Granted, it landed on the floor, but he played it off like nothing happened and continued to wow the crowd.
Most importantly, let’s talk about the music. Grouplove has a very distinguishable sound and I never would have guessed that they’d be this good live. The vocals sound the same live as they do recorded, which is extraordinary considering the intricate, unique quality of his voice. But what truly amazes me is that their live set is, in my opinion, better than their recorded tracks. The songs have a fullness and a rockier edge than they do on the albums. Their live tracks really appeal to me more, something that’s impressive because more often than not, bands don’t sound as great live. In this case, Grouplove, MS MR, and Smallpools all sounded amazing live. If you missed this show, you truly missed out on an amazing concert.
Did I mention Grouplove recorded their entire Sunday night set and emailed out a copy of a live song to everyone that attended? Yeah, they’re pretty awesome.