The Band: Hannah Hooper (vocals, keyboards), Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar), Sean Gadd (bass), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals), and Ryan Rabin (drums)
California indie-rock band Grouplove are touring in support of their latest album 'Big Mess', released on September 9th on Canvasback/Atlantic. MUNA and Dilly Dally have been joining them on the North American leg of the tour, which has been regularly selling out for good reason. On Sunday, October 30th, they made a stop in Toronto to perform at the Danforth Music Hall.
Toronto alt-rockers Dilly Dally kicked off the night just before 8:00pm and the room was packed early for the hometown band. Playing mostly songs from their debut album 'Sore', which was released last year to critical acclaim on the aptly-named Buzz Records. I've seen the band a few times before and they always put on a great show. Closing the set with their two singles 'The Touch' and 'Desire', their heavy, 90's throwback vibe was a great complement to the punkier side of Grouplove.
Next up were fellow Los Angeles pop-rockers MUNA, who released their debut 'The Loudspeaker EP' on RCA Records this past May. The 5-piece warmed up the room with a high energy set of danceable synthpop jams that couldn't help but get the crowd moving. Every member of the band was even dancing wildly on stage throughout the whole performance. Things got a bit emotional near the end when they announced it would be their final show with their bass player and then played some new songs before giving up the stage to Grouplove.
With about a half hour break between sets, the crowd was ready to see the headliner. The band appeared one by one on the dimly lit stage and got things rolling with the song 'I'm With You' off their second album 'Spreading Rumours'. It was a great choice to open with since it starts out slow but picks up speed about midsong. They continued with some tracks from their latest album 'Big Mess' peppered with early classics like 'Itchin' on a Photograph' and 'Tongue Tied'. These sent the audience into a mad frenzy. The band had a lot of energy, with lead vocalists Hannah and Christian dancing and bouncing around the stage constantly. During the third song, Christian walked out to the edge of the stage and let himself fall backwards into the crowd for a brief stage dive before being abruptly rescued by security. Later on, Hannah ventured a little further to sing half of a song from the middle of the audience floor. The band seemed to be having a great time and they made a point of noting how excited they were to be back and playing their "biggest show ever in Toronto."
The light show and backdrop were amazing, with multiple variations ranging from big flashing strobe lights to just a few beaded strings of lights hanging over the backdrop. The audience were engaged at every moment and vigorously waving their hands in perfect unison during their biggest hits. The band played a fantastic cover of the Beastie Boys' 'Sabotage' before finishing the set with their latest single 'Welcome To Your Life'. They walked offstage, but not a single audience member turned to leave, as ethereal ambient music droned on beneath the crowd's chanting "GROUP! LOVE! GROUP! LOVE!" Finally, Christian returned alone and sat centre stage with his acoustic guitar and began a solo rendition of 'Enlighten Me'. The band joined him to finish the song and played two of their biggest singles 'Ways To Go' and 'Colours' for a satisfying three-song encore. Overall, it was a great show and Grouplove are definitely worth checking out the next time they pass through Toronto.
'Big Mess' is out now on Canvasback/Atlantic Records.
Check out our previous profile of Grouplove here.