Tag Archives: Andrew Wessen


Poised for Bigger Things

September 26th, 2013

Grouplove – The Bowery Ballroom – September 25, 2013

Less than a year since their last big performance in town, the L.A. indie pop-rock band Grouplove returned with a bevy of new songs—and a bit of a new attitude and sound—that showed off a newer sound last night at The Bowery Ballroom. Playing to a packed venue, the quintet threw the kind of joyous dance party that’s often reserved for the city’s bigger rooms. And they got things started with the opening track of their week-old new album, Spreading Rumours, “I’m With You.” This song immediately showed, as it does on the record, Grouplove’s new direction: something more brash than just the sweet, electronic-tinged music they had debuted with on their first album, Never Trust a Happy Song.

The tune began with a quick beat, sparse guitar and bass, and ended in a full-band breakdown, all while relying heavily on the group’s voices. This same sort of style evolution appeared in most of the new material, like “Borderlines and Aliens,” which had an almost Primus-like bassline that turned into a blissful, straight rock chorus, while lead singer Christian Zucconi skewed Eddie Vedder on the vocals and keyboardist Hannah Hooper articulated the cheeky “Arri- Arri- Arri- gato!” shout in the prechorus.

Deeper in the set, Grouplove’s use of hip-hop beats against Vampire Weekend guitars (and even a sample of a steel drum) during “Shark Attack” proved their willingness to experiment with sounds mid-song, all while they wrapped the intentional chaos in a sweet and catchy chorus and kept the crowd dancing. It also didn’t hurt that Hooper’s and Zucconi’s stellar voices could carry just about any song, regardless of genre. The hits from the first album were there, too, like “Colours” and “Tongue Tied.” But if last night’s set is any indication, Grouplove have adjusted their course by mixing genres and adding bold, new material to an already breathtakingly fun live show, and as a result, they’re poised to get even bigger. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Grouplove Bring a Sense of Normalcy to Terminal 5

November 5th, 2012

Grouplove – Terminal 5 – November 2, 2012

Last week was harrowing for New Yorkers, having to endure flooding, massive power outages and loss, all thanks to Hurricane Sandy. But as the city slowly came back to life, Grouplove’s set at Terminal 5 on Friday night was one of the first events to really help some normalcy return to a torn city.

The crowd stirred loudly with shared tales of survival, but when bassist Sean Gadd appeared onstage, everyone there was instantly matching the hand claps he used to start “Itchin’ on a Photograph.” From that point on, the Los Angeles indie-rockers were in control with their lush blend of vocals, hook-filled songs and stomp-around-the-stage antics. Their diverse set started with bouncier tracks like “Lovely Cup” and “Love Will Save Your Soul,” but as the crowd loosened up, the band grew rowdier by the end with “Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten” and “Slow.”

Grouplove returned for the encore, sitting at the stage’s edge before hushing the audience and performing a beautiful version of “Cruel and Beautiful” without the aid of any microphones or plugs—a fitting way to end the week, giving fans a few hours to forget their woes and have fun again. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


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