Grouplove brought it home last Friday night as they performed to a sold-out and packed-out Hollywood Palladium, bringing the euphoric tangle of their ferociously celebratory indie-rock anthems to Sunset Blvd. Always a tumultuous hurricane of rabid shredding and spitfire vocal stunts, the Los Angeles-based quintet brought an overwhelming wave of energizing passion to their that reinvented every song of theirs into a lung-burning, voice cracking sing-along; one that you find yourself pummeling the floor, dancing carelessly with complete strangers. Both communal and cathartic, their songs ranged from kooky, jovial weirdness (“Beans on Pizza”) to downright emotionally visceral (“Colours”), yet the running thread through it all has been an incessant love for life that gushed forward infectiously into those lucky enough to have it catch their ear.
Always on the move, the band’s various members may hail from both coasts, with the group’s initial meeting on the Greek Island of Crete — yet, their hippie sentimentalities and jubilant use of West Coast imagism has always cemented them as a Los Angeles band. This point was driven by guitarist Sean Gadd, just before a crazily boisterous run-through of “Cannonball,” when he thanked the crowd for their over five years worth of support and that the crowds in L.A. would always make them feel at home. Singing of Beach Boys-inspired endless summers, marmalade and making out, getting down in hot deserts, Grouplove takes a distinctly Southern Californian spirit and blows it up in the most blissfully raucous ways.
With the band’s most recent release Big Mess, as well as the birth of lead singers Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi’s daughter, their exuberant celebration for life has rocketed to another level of elated optimism. Sharing the stage together, the charged intimacy between Hooper and Zucconi is electric and crackles with every shared lyricism and screamed chorus–while on their more anthemic songs like “Tongue Tied” and “Welcome To Your Life,” the couple absolutely lost their shit in a flurry of hair-fling head bangs and ecstatic jumping. Zucconi’s delirious croons and Hooper’s groovy deliveries on “Good Morning” had the crowd swaying in a sea of sublime dreaminess; and an impromptu cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” lit the stage on fire in a moment of pure face-melting rock bombast. Of all the hits that were danced, thrown, and ripped apart on the stage, two songs off Big Mess really shone in their dispatch from Grouplove’s more explosive indie-pop sound: “Enlighten Me,” with its brooding melancholic hopefulness and concussive finale of uplifting choral harmonies; and “Spinning,” which sees the group’s lead-vocalist couple at their most rivetingly vulnerable in a duet of soul-lifting tenderness.
While perpetually one of the more non-traditional rock bands that still manage to rock your socks, shoes, pants, and brain off, Grouplove boasts a discography of rambunctious surf, indie, and at times pretty metal sonics–but they also have the depthless capacity of emotive poignancy. Live, this almost always bleeds through even in their most outlandishly riotous songs, and the passion that foams from their incapability to contain it onstage is self-evident to anyone who’s caught a glimpse of Zucconi jumping ten feet into the air, Hooper thrashing her feet into the crowd, or drummer Ryan Rabin removing his shirt and annihilating his drum set. This unrestrained zealousness is what’s been left behind at every one of their shows and it’s the reason they pull crowds from West to East Coast, and everywhere in between–but L.A. is home, and as always, they did right by their hometown by burning it to the ground.
Words & Photography: Steven Ward