Grouplove - Boston Arms, London
It's been almost two years since US-based band Grouplove last played in the London. In their time away from their UK fans the Stateside rockers have found great success with their debut album Never Trust A Happy Song, soundtracked an iPod commercial and have built up a huge fan base back home, leading to bigger and bigger shows each time they tour.
The group have recently unveiled the follow up to their debut, entitled Spreading Rumours, with the album doing well sales wise and receiving critical acclaim. The collection is still unreleased in the UK but it looks like we'll be able to get our grubby paws on it at the beginning of the year, with the band set to tour around the same time.
The five piece have performed a series of shows in the US recently under the banner The Seesaw Tour, playing two nights in each city in intimate venues, with a rock gig the first night, and a stripped down/acoustic set the second. This format seems to have gone down a treat with fans so the band have brought it over here, playing two London gigs, with an electric show at the Boston Arms and an acoustic bash at the tiny Slaughtered Lamb.
The Fix prefer the noisier variety of Grouplove (well, it takes all sorts!) so the Friday night show at the Boston Arms was right up our street. I'd never encountered the venue before and it was actually bigger than I imagined. It was a decent room for watching a band but it was pretty hideous for picture taking! There was no photo pit so you had to shoot from the crowd but the stage was way too high to get anything decent down the front, so I had to shoot from the middle of the audience further back. Add bad lighting, lots of smoke and half the members in darkness for the majority of time and you can imagine why I wasn't having a ball!
That being said, there was plenty entertainment to be had during the evening as the band were phenomenal from the off, opening their set with track one on their new album (and a bit of a curveball) 'I'm With You'. I once described Grouplove to a fellow photographer as a happier Arcade Fire. I still think it's reasonably true but their musical output is also reminiscent of an upbeat Pixies. The new song throws elements of dance into the mix, making it a slight departure for the act but it really works well.
Group lovers shouldn't be alarmed though, as the new songs on offer weren't an assortment of dubstep, grime and jungle classics, instead just offering a slight progression from their debut's sound. Tracks like 'Schoolboy', the hugely infectious 'Shark Attack', forthcoming single 'Ways To Go' and highlight 'Borderlines And Aliens' all received fantastic reactions from the ecstatic crowd, most of whom seemed to know the lyrics already.
Naturally the biggest cheers and singsongs were reserved for the band's older numbers, with 'Itching On A Photograph', 'Lovely Cup', 'Naked Kids' and 'Tongue Tied' all going down the proverbial storm, especially the Apple soundtracking latter, coming after a rollicking 'Raspberry', leading to numerous punters legging it down the front for a boogie! Vocalists Christian Zucconi and a skeleton suited Hannah Hooper were on great form throughout the evening, flinging themselves into the performance, with passionate vocals, keyboard thumping, hair action, manic dancing and lots of jumping up and down the order of the day! Guitarist Andrew Wessen also got his moment in the spotlight at one point, bouncing into the crowd to mingle during one track.
The band ended their show with an explosive rendition of their "signature song" 'Colours', leaving a hot and sweaty London audience shouting for more, having just witnessed a a very exciting, energetic and full on set.