Photo Courtesty of Grouplove, Pamela Litky
The crazy kids of Grouplove prove their all grown up on their recently released sophomore album, Spreading Rumours — well, sort of — and last week rocked D.C. for not one, but two nights of indie-rock excellence as part of their Seesaw Tour.
The band played a raucous set at U Street Music Hall, coming on stage with A$AP Rocky’s “Wild for the Night,” which the crowd definitely was.
The indie-rockers played in their typically exuberant and hippie-esque style which seemed to catch on fire during songs off the new album including “Borderlines and Aliens” and “Raspberry.”
The songs off the new album feature a new level of sophistication for the band, proving that they’re not only the fun-loving kids eager to make out at their best friend’s house, but artists with the chops and guts to do what they want.
They’re the cool stoners in high school with plenty of potential who don’t really feel the need to prove anything to anyone; they’re contented with marching (and bouncing and playing) to the beats of their own creation.
Enter “Bitin’ the Bullet” with stomping keys that nearly overpowered U Street Music Hall with its energy and unignorable vigor.
But they’re also more calculating than they might lead on, and it showed in their set list.
“Slow” was perfectly timed to bring the crowd down toward the end of the set. Anyone who’s seen the episode of Gossip Girl in which Blair Waldorf reluctantly walks down the aisle to a man who’s definitely not Chuck Bass understand the gravitas of the track delivers, and the live performance was even more powerful with haunting, time-slowing, vocals.
But the seesaw effect wouldn’t have been complete without some sort teetering.
Enter The Hamilton.
The band performed a special, seated acoustic set the following night at The Hamilton, that admittedly had this writer questioning its effectiveness. At least initially, because how do you contain so much energy? And should you?
No longer dressed in wild prints or skeleton jumpsuits, the band made an effort to “dress up” for the occasion (they mentioned this a few times on stage) with blazers, short-sleeved button-up shirts, and a lovely flowy dress for Hannah Hooper.
The venue was lambent with myriad candles situated upon the rafters and the sound was crisp.
“Itichin’ on a Photograph” struck a particularly poignant note acoustically, scratching at the very human incapability of (attempting) to let go of a person, a memory, because it’s the right thing to do.
The band exchanged banter between themselves and the crowd, and proved able to behave themselves in such a setting.
That was before encouraging the crowd to howl along with them before “Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten” off debut album Never Trust A Happy Song, but what can you do?
“Tongue Tied,” Grouplove’s breakout hit, didn’t really have the same powerhouse efficacy as it did the night before, with segments falling flat at certain junctions, but that doesn’t mean it was flawed, but rather speaks to the gusto of the band. It wouldn’t be rock and roll if every song fit neatly into the space.
Grouplove played ACL in Austin, Texas this past weekend and will continue to send crowd teetering-and-tottering in unconventional venues before kicking off their Campus Consciousness Tour later this month, leaving fans tongue tied before waving goodbye.