Grouplove - Garage, London
I originally stumbled over Grouplove at London's Koko back in May last year when the LA based combo played the venue as part of the NME Radar Tour. The band were my favourite act on the four band bill and I really appreciated their set, even though their material was unfamiliar.
I had a second opportunity to check them out in Scotland at the T In The Park Festival a few weeks later. They were the first band playing on their stage that afternoon and I tried to coax my fellow photographers to come and shoot the five piece, even exclaiming "They're like a happier Arcade Fire!" but it wasn't to be and I sadly photographed the majority of our three song allocation in the very large photo pit on my own!
The band released their debut album Never Trust A Happy Song in September and I devoured the collection on release. I was unable to attend their London show that month so vowed to view them next time round, so was immensely happy when their current tour rolled into town.
This was probably Grouplove's biggest headline show to date in the capital and they had sold out the venue so it was already fairly hot and stuffy when they took to the stage, opening with 'Don't Say Oh Well' from their self titled EP, followed by 'Lovely Cup'.
'Itchin' on a Photograph' was the third track in the set, cementing the fact that the band are one of the most joyous acts around. The gang were really going for it at this point, with joint vocalists Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi really throwing themselves into their performance.
Although the majority of the group were far from home it was different story for the Brit in the band - bass player Sean Gadd as he had a lot of family and friends in attendance and was given his chance to shine later in the set, delivering the vocals for 'Chloe', a track whose verses always reminds me of London Calling-era Clash for some reason, with Joe and the boys booting a church door open to join a gospel choir for the song's stirring chorus!
As always photographers were allowed to shoot the set's first three songs from the photo pit but we were also told we could cover the rest of the show from the audience, which was great in theory but turned into more than a struggle as the longer camera lens that I attached didn't like the change in temperature from my cool bag to the now roasting venue and just kept misting up, causing me to call it a day camera wise.
By the time set highlight 'Naked Kids' appeared about halfway through the evening the place was just dripping with sweat, with the band soaked and most of the audience feeling the heat too. There were a couple of slower tracks in the set that must have given the band a tiny bit of a rest, which was great for them but not so good for me as I must admit I much prefer their in your face, rabble rousing ditties to their slower material. That being said, I found myself mightily impressed with the Hannah led set closer 'Slow', a song I hadn't been fussed about on record and the set closed with the band in darkness, only lit by drummer Ryan Rabin's fancy drumsticks.
Grouplove may not be well known in the UK yet but their song "Tounge Tied' has been heard by thousands, if not millions, due to it soundtracking a recent iphone Touch commercial and it was the obvious choice for an encore, with the track going down as well as expected, with the crowd going completly mental!
A tiny treat followed in the shape of a cover of Whitney's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', but it was a bit of a cheat as they only sang the chorus a few times. I'll let the band off though as they finished the evening with a pummeling take on 'Colours', complete with Hannah bashing her tambourine off the floor on numerous occasions!
Grouplove's Garage show was just simply sensational and is up there with the Kings College show from The Sounds as the gig to beat this year. I think the band are the first group since Tilly And The Wall to really make me feel uplifted with their songs and long term Fix followers will know how much I cherish those MIA Omaha stompers!
The band have an extensive US tour coming up but hopefully they'll be back in the UK around festival time, giving more people a chance to sample a great band.