A powerful, familiar beat fills the air, I recognize the sound of the Kanye West hit Monster as the crowd packed into Queen st. west’s Wrongbar eagerly anticipates what’s going to happen next. Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper enter stage left with huge grins on their face, and the audience cheers as they introduce Lovely cup and burst into song. They proceed to deliver one of the most passionate, energetic shows I’ve ever been privileged enough to witness and I’m blown away by their genuine happiness and appreciation of playing at a packed venue like this. The amount of people who have come to see Grouplove have far surpassed my expectations. I guess word spreads fast in Toronto when you hear some positive music for once. The band seems flattered, and impressed by the size of the crowd. If I had known it would have been so packed I would have arrived in time to see the opening band Reptar.
Grouplove’s new tour companions Reptar seem to be respected immensely and praised by Christian throughout their own set onstage. It’s nice to see mutual support of fellow indie bands. Highlights of the show included a wicked drums solo where drummer Ryan Rabin pounds away with glowing drumsticks and intensity amidst flashing strobe effects. An unexpected Whitney Houston tribute by Christian broke out when he spontaneously started singing “I wanna dance with somebody” that had the whole audience enthused, bouncing around and singing along.
After the crowd starts earnestly chanting Grouplove in order to bring them back onstage for an encore, I half expect them to come back turning cartwheels and performing back handsprings. They really are that exuberant and joyful. I can’t imagine them ever arguing or being overly critical with one another. Their energy is palpable and infectious. Everyone around me has huge smiles on their faces. They all share the spotlight as each member gets introduced and applauded. I love that each member seems to be an essential component to making the band work. Hannah and Christian have the sort of chemistry that seems to inspire each other as well as the crowd. When they finally played Tongue-tied and closed with Colours, the crowd was pulsing with good vibes. Never have I been to a show where I dropped my bag and my sweater and multiple phones lit up in order to help me search for my lost items. It was as if they influenced us all to be more considerate, peaceful and happy. I really could not have asked for a better show although it did seem much too short. Most likely because I could watch them for hours on end and remain riveted by their stage presence and charismatic uplifting tunes.
Grouplove is as honest as it gets. No gimmicks, attitude or affected boredom and pretentiousness with these guys, just genuine happiness and unity all around. Listening to their music is awesome in itself but seeing them perform live is like being swept up by a hurricane that transports you someplace far better than you ever were before.