Grouplove & Portugal. The Man @ Merriweather Post Pavillion

 

Photo Credit: Press Line Photos
Photo Credit: Press Line Photos

 

The music industry has always been characterized by its community. Artists, record labels, and even fans are always coming together sharing ideas, songs and experiences. Perhaps was there no place where this community was on fuller display than on this year’s Honda Civic Tour featuring Grouplove and Portugal. The Man.  As Hannah Hooper (AKA Lady Grouplove) put it during the tour’s September 12th stop at the historic Merriweather Post Pavillion, “All of us here on the stage are a bunch of best f**** friends just doing what we love to do.”The Oregon based indie rock band Typhoon opened the show. The first thing that strikes you about Typhoon is their size and versatility. With its eleven members, there is nearly nothing the band can’t do. At any given point a song could feature horns, guitar, violin or just straight up clapping. Lead singer Kyle Morton boasts a deep but somewhat airy voice that brings a sense of angst into many of the bands songs, but the angst is often broken by group choruses that bring a sense of hope and joy. All in all, the crowd did not put much effort into getting into Typhoon’s set. They fulfilled their purpose well however, providing enough energy and musical pizzazz to make for a lovely set to sit back on the lawn and take in. Plus, they gave out their latest album for free at the merchandise tent. Go Typhoon!

Despite a quality opening act, the tone for the night was truly set by Portugal. The Man’s first song. Covering none other than Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2”, John Gourley and his crew immediately had the crowds undivided attention and approval. This would only be the first of what turned out to be a night of incredibly iconic covers. Later on in the set, Portugal. The Man covered “A Kilo” by Wu Tang member Ghostface Killah, and the set arguably peaked with a cover of “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis. However, even with the myriad of covers, Portugal kept their set incredibly original and distinctly their own. On the big screen behind the stage animations designed by Gourley himself accompanied the songs. Only rivaled by MGMT in terms of their psychedelic nature, the animations portrayed everything from a dying eight legged creature to a forest enclosing around the camera. This coupled with an amazing light display where beams of light were shot out through smoke above the crowd in such a way as to simulate actual waves being emitted from the stage, ensured that the show was never dull, even during lesser known songs.

And then there’s Grouplove.

Grouplove is known for their high energy sets, and this one was no exception. Coming out dancing to “Wild for the Night,” the band never stopped moving, never stopped shouting, and never stopped having fun. In studio recordings, Christian Zucconi’s patented, piercing, raw voice produces a unique emotional sound that has helped make singles such as “Itchin’ on a Photograph” so popular. But in concert, his voice is even more awe inspiring. Never losing its bite throughout the entire set, Zucconi hit ever note so incredibly pure that it brings the audience right into the song. And let’s not forget Hannah Hooper, who dances along to every song, sings some solo, and is always ready to add personality to any background chorus on the set. Hooper was once so self conscious that she had to wear a mask on stage to perform. Those days are clearly gone as she appears to take such joy in performing live that the crowd seemingly has no choice but to have fun with her.

Notable moment’s in Grouplove’s set included a cover (surprise surprise) of Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love” and a brief moment of “comic relief” when the band all put on horse masks and performed the theme song they wrote for the recent Netflix production BoJack Horseman. The crowd jumped the entire time and screamed along to popular songs such as “Tongue Tied” and “Ways to Go.” But, what truly separated the concert from being just another “good show” was how it ended. After playing “Colours,” a song that traditionally Grouplove ends on, the band left the stage. But, then they came back, with Portugal. The Man and played a cover of no other than “Baba O’Riley” by The Who. Seeing a bunch of friends playing one of the most classic rock songs ever made for an amazing ending to a show that typified everything that we love about the music industry.

-Pat Geiger

 

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