Grouplove Philadelphia Concert Review
I recently found myself obligated to make a trip to Philadelphia. Typically not a preferred destination, this time I was thrilled to be going once I realized that Grouplove was taking their Seesaw Tour to the city on the same night.
The City of Brotherly Love might just be the most inaccurate nickname ever. Philly is generally not a friendly place. Their sporting venues are dangerous places, their drivers are rude, politicians are sketchy… You get the picture, but there’s one very notable exception. These miscreants know how to rock. For decades, Philadelphia has been a city that rocks, birthing such stellar acts as The Hooters, The A’s, and Cinderella. In addition, the city is a favorite tour stop for all of the iconic names in rock and roll. On this night, they got to witness some future icons.
Philadelphia rock music fans are fantastic, and they make every show in the city just a bit more special than in most other locales. I had caught Grouplove last fall at Florida’s Next Big Thing festival and loved their energy and charisma, not to mention their music, but I was truly excited to see them in a rock ‘n roll city like Philadelphia. They did not disappoint.
On this tour, the talented quintet are playing two shows in each city; night one, a raucous rock affair and night two (this night) a more laid back acoustic show. I was thrilled to be able to secure a ticket for the acoustic night, because these five are superbly talented and creative, and I was anxious to witness the different spin they’d offer on their unique blend of pop rock.
The sold out venue, Underground Arts, in the industrial Callowhill part of town, was an excellent backdrop for the set. After a nice warm-up set from up-and-coming Australians The Rubens, the electricity in the crowd was palpable. With fog drifting from the rafters, front man, Christian Zucconi took the stage to a loud ovation. He slid behind the piano for an unaccompanied solo as his band mates joined him for a slick version of “I’m With You.” From there, they kicked into “Itchin’ On A Photograph,” and the party was on.
If this night was the more mellow acoustic show, I can’t imagine the previous night’s fervor at Union Transfer. The band just oozes energy and offers non-stop superb, fun rock music. The set was maybe the slightest bit toned down; we saw the keyboards eschewed for piano as an example, but it was still a rollicking good time, and a nice night to showcase the band’s talent.
At different times in the night, we saw lead singer / whirling dervish, Hannah Hooper, drummer Ryan Rabin, and Zucconni slide behind the piano. Phenomenally talented guitarist Andrew Wesson, took a turn behind the drums, and bass player Sean Gadd took lead vocals on several songs. But, most of the focus was directed to Zucconi and Hooper. They complement each other fantastically, often deftly trading off boy/girl vocals, all the while appearing to be having an absolute blast.
Aside from their musical talent, these guys all sing extremely well, which resulted in unusually crisp five person vocals at numerous times throughout the night.
There truly wasn’t a soft spot in the entire set, where we were able to enjoy numerous fun twists:
- “Chloe” – Was introduced by Rabin and offered our first chance to see Gadd drop his bass and deliver lead vocals on a powerful, fun tune that had the crowd in a frenzy.
- “Close Your Eyes” – Practically in mid-sentence, Zucconi began to howl, the crowd eagerly joined in, feeding nicely into the opening of this softer offering.
- “Ways To Go” – I was wondering what they’d do with their current keyboard driven hit, and they offered a great spin. Rabin on piano, Wessen behind the drums, Gadd on bass, and Hooper and Zucconi killing the fun vocal duet.
- “Cruel and Beautiful World” – Tender vocals, and phenomenal guitar work from Wessen. Just beautiful to listen to (wish I had recorded this one).
- “Getaway Car” – featured an xylophone solo, and Gadd again on vocals.
- “Tongue Tied” – Another fun party, this one had the crowd singing along perfectly, and sounding fantastic.
- “Lovely Cup” – the entire crowd danced to this one, which spotlighted Gadd’s superb bass.
- “Philalalaladelphia” – Yeah, it’s not a real song, but the night before, they wrote two lines while hanging out in Rittenhouse Square. It was silly stuff, but damn if they didn’t turn it into a three minue crowd infused party. Only in Philalalalaladelphia!
In between, there were plenty of deep cuts, ample representation from all three of the band’s releases, a nice cover and creative alternate versions. An hour and a half of fun stuff in a lovely, loving atmosphere.
Follow Us on Twitter or Like our Facebook t0 receive alerts. Here are the photos, not great, but some decent shots: Grouplove photo album from this show. Also, here are some older photos to fill your needs Grouplove at The Big Ticket
(see the full setlist below)
I’m With You
Itchin’ On A Photograph
Close Your Eyes
Ways To Go
Cruel And Beautiful World
Love Will Find You (cover)