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Grouplove and the Power of Positivity

June 13th, 2012

Grouplove – Webster Hall – June 12, 2012


Basic math teaches us that a double negative is actually a positive: There isn’t no truth to that. The same math teaches us that a double positive is also a positive and you can keep piling them up and stay in the black, which seems to be just the way Grouplove plays it. The Los Angeles band unleashed a tidal wave of positive energy last night at Webster Hall, proving why, in record time, they’ve gone from a “dude, you’ve got to check out these guys” kind of thing to selling out a Tuesday night show. Opening with “Lovely Cup,” the quintet bounced around the stage like toddlers on a playground, taking turns mounting the drum riser, hopping in place and playing their hearts out.

They continued in this vein, thrilling the audience with songs off their ironically titled Never Trust a Happy Song: “Itchin’ on a Photograph,” “Love Will Save Your Soul” and “Naked Kids,” which felt like a modern day version of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” with a car heading to the beach replacing the boat and “here’s to living out our dreams” instead of “life is but a dream.” As the set churned on, everyone in the band got a chance to lead the party. Lead guitarist Andrew Wessen played ukulele and sang on “Spun,” which featured some wonderfully frenetic jamming, and bassist Sean Gadd sang “Chloe.”

While a sold-out show might not be a big deal to some bands, the guys in Grouplove were as hyped to be playing for this crowd as the audience was to be there. One of the night’s best moments was “Slow,” a more deliberate and structured song sung by Hannah Hooper. But then the song flipped, the microphone cables turned fluorescent red and strobe lights flashed while the band built an intense rhythm jam led by drummer Ryan Rabin’s electric blue drumsticks. The encore was highlighted by the band’s hit song, “Tongue Tied,” a glorious bit of pop perfection. And although it seemed Grouplove couldn’t top this, they segued into the most ecstatic cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” you can imagine. Because the math is simple: No matter how many pluses you tack on, the result is always positive. —A. Stein