At one time or another over the past year you've probably heard one of Grouplove's catchy singles ("Colours," "Naked Kids" and "Tongue Tied") buzzing around the radio, Internet, or at a festival near you. Their combination of rhythmic drumming, melodic guitar solos, and clever lyrics would have anyone dancing around their bedroom in the buff.
But if you've ever listened to Grouplove's debut studio LP Never Trust A Happy Song from beginning to end, you'll know that this band has a diverse and unique sound. And if you see them live, you'll also know that they are capable of sounding much different than the upbeat pop/rock group they may first appear to be.
I've seen Grouplove perform several times now, most recently at the Gentleman of The Road music festival in Monterey in August, and again at the Fillmore, one of San Francisco's most iconic music venues, this past Monday. Both times these guys really blew me away with their energy and showmanship.
There is no shortage of jumping around, head banging, dancing, and furiously playing of instruments when they are on stage. Watching Grouplove perform feels like watching a big jam session between good friends.
Not surprisingly, that's kind of what it is. The five members - Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitars), Hannah Hooper (vocals, keyboards), Andrew Wessen (vocals, guitars), Ryan Rabin (drums), and Sean Gadd (vocals, bass) first came to know each other at an artist's retreat on the Greek isle of Crete in 2008. They formed a friendship first and didn't start playing together until a few years later.
As Zucconi said in a recent interview for NBC in San Diego, "It was just so random and we were able to take our friendship and turn it into something bigger than ourselves. It's been so cool."
If the group's relationship is a testament to their success, then I guess what they say must be true... the best relationships start as friendships.
Another awesome thing about seeing a Grouplove show is that they are no stranger to audience participation. During "Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten," they get the whole audience howling like a wolf at the beginning of the song.
And if you're not jumping up and down by the end of the song "Slow" (ironically) then you must be wearing cement shoes! Rabin brings a big floor tom drum to the front of the stage and proceeds to ferociously beat away, climaxing with a wildly paced drum solo at the end. Hooper joins in at one point too, and the stage turns into a raucous drum festival. This version of the song is definitely not the same that's recorded on the album. The intensity and emotion of it is incredible, something you can really only experience by seeing them live.
After Grouplove finishes touring this year, they will take some time in early 2013 to write and record their sophomore studio album. So far I've been really surprised by what this band can do -- I'm eager to see what they will come up with next!