LIVE REVIEW: Grouplove (3/30/2012)

Grouplove

As of the moment I started writing this review, I had seen 2,136 different setlists played from 1,916 different bands. To date, there has never been an opening band that has ever floored me quite the way that Grouplove just did. Combining my two favorite elements in music, songs with angst and indie-pop dance, this pack of newcomers manages to bring the 1980s and 1990s into one, glorious union. Think Molly Ringwald if she smelled like teen spirit.

Examples of this were found throughout the band’s set. “Lovely Cup,” the evening’s opener, packed a mean bass and fuzz pedal. The crunchy vocals aggressively push back the listener, while the songs riff attract enough groove to create the urge to dance (which can be hard to accomplish in Kansas City). “Itchin’ on a Photograph” follows suit, adding a M83 synth sound to the mix, hidden passively under driving drums and Pixies-styled vocals. The crunchy wails of Christian Zucconi lead to aggressive percussion and punchy guitar solos throughout the song. This alone is enough to get me off, as tasteful guitar exposure seems to have before a thing of the past, replaced by computer generated tripe and studio created effects.

“Naked Kids,”  the evenings third cut, steps backwards in terms of combativeness but collects itself in terms catchiness. Hannah Hooper comes into her own on this number, balancing her ability to be badass with unbearably adorable. Her borderline rap in the breakdown is charming and charismatic, proving once again that a talented women is an asset to any band.

Having missed most of “Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten” while walking out of the photo pit, I caught up with the band at “Spun,” the evening’s fifth song. With more of a ska feel to it, the brand breaks out a Uke and even more vintage dust particles. Combined with “Chloe,” which reeks of Cheap Trick, this young band manages to reach well beyond their age of creativity. Kansas City seemed to agree, bouncing around the floor with hands in the air.

“Slow” the first of the band’s last three songs, unbelievably stepped an already stellar set up a notch. Ryan Rabin, the group’s drummer, stepped into the center of the stage, playing on a single, free standing floor tom. Towards the end of the number, the stage light dimmed to a nearly pitch black status, leaving Rabin to provide the only light, which came from his fluorescent glowing drum sticks. In an almost Blue Man Group moment, Kansas City rejoiced at the band’s theatrics, bring the venues noise level to an almost deafening roar. Having not even played their two singles, it was obvious to me that Grouplove easily could have not only headlined this venue, but managed to own that bitch as well. While I’ll be the first to admit that Kansas City can be a drag when it comes to crowd participation, tonight our city was spot on. The energy in The Midland was the best I had ever seen.

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