By Matt Arena
After an incredibly successful first day, Firefly had even more in store for day 2. With doors opening at 11 am, there was much more music to be packed into the schedule and if you werenâ€™t there first thing in the morning, you may have missed some of the best sets of the entire festival.
It says a lot when a band can put on a killer set with one of the first performances of the day at an all day festival like Firefly. It certainly canâ€™t be easy playing so early in the morning when most people arenâ€™t there. But none of this seemed to faze Imagine Dragons. The Las Vegas four piece has generated a lot of buzz lately, appearing on many peopleâ€™s radar after their wildly popular set at Coachella. And their Firefly set did more than impress. It blew people away, almost literally. Easily the loudest band out of all three days (probably due to the massive bass drum lead singer Dan Reynolds was beating upon), they definitely blasted the sleep from the festival goers eyes Saturday morning. â€˜Radioactiveâ€™ is an absolute monster of a live track. Starting off with light acoustic strumming and harmonizing, one may think, â€œugh, hereâ€™s another restrained indie song,â€ but then the bass drops and what comes feels like the love child of an AWOLNATION and fun. song. The aforementioned giant bass drum plays a large role here, as Reynolds smashes against it as hard as he can, providing a boom that should register on the Richter scale. Thought it may have only been noon, the crowd didnâ€™t seem sluggish one bit. From the drop in â€˜Radioactive,â€™ they were bouncing and singing as if they were watching a headliner. Bands tend to pull larger crowds at festivals, just naturally as there are more people than standard gigs, but with Imagine Dragons set it seemed as if every person watching did so deliberately. There werenâ€™t any usual festival stragglers who came just because they heard loud music, everyone already knew the band. The word â€œcatchyâ€ is used a lot to describe music, and usually with the connotation this in some way makes the song or lyrics inferior, but Imagine Dragons are catchy in the superior sense. The music just grabs you in a way thatâ€™s impossible not to join in. The fast and upbeat drumming foundations on â€˜Round and Roundâ€™ give it a never-ending, pounding feel and combines with the wonderfully constructed choruses to make one of the best live tracks Iâ€™ve heard in a while. Plus the sheer energy this band exuded from the stage made it near impossible for the audience not to return back in kind. Though starting even before noon, Imagine Dragons put on easily the best set of the day and possibly even the best out of the entire weekend.
Up a bit later on in the day was Grouplove. A band that seems to just be getting bigger by the day (they just announced another, larger headlining tour after finishing their first one just a month ago), and they deserve every bit of it. To call Grouplove unique would be an understatement. From the music, to the band members themselves, thereâ€™s nothing ordinary about this band. There isnâ€™t another band out there you can fairly compare their sound to and itâ€™s taken to another degree in their live shows. Frequently extending intros and outros on a whim, Grouplove seem completely free on stage. Songs like â€˜Slow,â€™ are slowed down and distorted to a massive wall of drum beating, echoing static, and the fading screams of lead singer Christian Zucconi (who seems to sport a different hair color every time I see them). Theyâ€™re able to change their sound so quickly from song-to-song that if you close your eyes (and count to ten, ZING!) youâ€™d think a different band had taken the stage. Lead vocal duties switch between Zucconi, Hannah Hooper (who doubles on keys), and bassist Sean Gadd. They have a very distinct vocal style, so when singing separately they give each song a different feel but still manage to blend together perfectly when harmonizing. This blender type vocal style is used on songs like â€˜Chloe,â€™ which starts off with Gaddâ€™s deep, almost country voice and joined by the higher sound from Hooper and the ever present ethereal wailing of Zucconi. Though the vocal styles may change, one thing always seems to be a constant with each Grouplove song; theyâ€™re all so fun. Granted thatâ€™s a pretty vague term to apply to a bandâ€™s sound, but upon seeing them perform itâ€™s hard not to agree. The loose nature of the rapid acoustic riffs, the constant rhythmic drumming, jumpy bass lines, and warbly key structures all come together so well. Take a song like â€˜Tongue Tiedâ€™ for example. Thereâ€™s so much going on in that song, a blending of musical styles that shouldnâ€™t work, but somehow they pull it off in spectacular fashion. Like all great bands, they take what makes them great and amplify it live. The passion and energy they play with on a consistent basis is astounding, almost as if they havenâ€™t played these songs countless times. Itâ€™s what makes each Grouplove show different, and their set at Firefly was no exception.
YOUNG THE GIANT
This alt-rock five piece has had one hell of a year. After their now classic performance of â€˜My Bodyâ€™ on the VMAâ€™s, Young the Giant have been on a rapid increase upwards. Having just wrapped up their sold out nation-wide tour, they hit up a couple major festivals too. First was Bonnaroo and now Firefly. To see this band on the power of the main stage was quite spectacular. Though their sound rangers from the alt-rock jumper of a track â€˜My Bodyâ€™ to more mellow tracks like â€˜Guns Out,â€™ they always manage to engage the crowd. Having chatted with bassist Payam Dootstzadeh prior to their set, he said theyâ€™d be playing a number of tracks and to be on the lookout for one in specific called â€˜Teachers.â€™ As the band is currently writing and recording the new album, theyâ€™ve been showcasing a number of new songs and â€˜Teachersâ€™ is definitely one to be anticipated. One of the more upbeat songs they have, itâ€™s able to do so in a way that doesnâ€™t feel like a My Body 2.0. The band is looking for a more evolved and experimental sound on the new record, the few new tracks they played evidence of that. It wasnâ€™t one of those moments in the set were you dread the new material, but instead something to look forward to, as everyone in the crowd is dying to see what Young the Giant have in store next. Of course the material off their massively successful debut album went down fantastically as well. Utilizing his now trademark two microphone set-up, lead singer Sameer Gadhia is able to re-create the haunting vocal echoes on songs like â€˜Guns Outâ€™ all the while slapping a tambourine against his hip. The two latest singles, â€˜Cough Syrupâ€™ and â€˜Apartmentâ€™ made early appearances in the set and were greeted with a blast of cheers as the audience loudly sang along. Though the true highlight of the set, and by far the entire weekend, was during the final song. If you know even a little about Young the Giant, youâ€™ll know how close they are with bands like Grouplove, Cage the Elephant, and a number of other young alt rock bands. Coincidentally enough, two of them just so happened to be at Firefly as well. So to the initiated, it shouldnâ€™t have come as much of a surprise when all the members of Grouplove and Walk the Moon mobbed the stage during the last chorus of â€˜My Body.â€™ From the very beginning of the song the crowd was deafening in their singing of literally every single word. Check YouTube (video proof!), itâ€™s even louder than Sameerâ€™s voice. Add to that the power the chorus has to turn any standing structure into a trampoline, and the bouncing mass of fans was already insane before the impromptu jam session. So when suddenly two full bands just charge the stage and start jumping and singing along, it pushed the crowd into a further frenzy. Walk the Moon front man Nicholas Petricca shared a mic with Sameer as the stage was crawling with the rest of the members from each band. Sometimes singing, other times just jumping and spinning around like dancing fools, it was the â€œmomentâ€ of the festival and one of the coolest things this writerâ€™s ever seen at a gig. Itâ€™s still unclear whether or not Young the Giant even knew about it beforehand, which would make it that much more a definitive festival moment.
Being that the lineup was mostly filled with up-and-coming alt rock acts, Firefly did the smart thing and made sure to throw in some bands to change up the style. Cake was definitely one of those bands. John McCreaâ€™s voice is instantly recognizable, as is the bandâ€™s sound in general. At first glance they might not seem like an interesting live act, McCreaâ€™s voice, though unique, is rather monotone and deadpan. While thatâ€™s part of what make their music work, itâ€™s not necessarily ideal for a live environment. Yet somehow theyâ€™re able to come alive. The surprisingly loud and much more pronounced riff from â€˜The Distanceâ€™ nearly transforms the once mellow track into a live anthem. Suddenly they were a full on rock band, turning the once monotonous track into a booming song that sprang to life. The trumpet work of Vince DiFiore is key in keeping the songs similar, but seeing Xan McCurdy on guitar is what really makes this band take a step forward as a live act. While underplayed in studio versions, the riffs in songs like â€˜Short Skirt/Long Jacketâ€™ come to the forefront. Louder and fuller, they become the backbone of the song and are hard to deny a mild headbang to. Definitely a band that will catch you off guard with their surprising life and energy, Cake was playing to an already established group of fans but was definitely able to win pretty much everyone who saw them over. Theyâ€™re not the type of band that will have the crowd jumping and going crazy, nor do they pretend to. But what they do so well is take their niche sound and expand upon it, possibly winning over those who at first pass on the droll nature of their studio sound.
Bands with one massive hit are always interesting to watch. Not only how they go about structuring their sets, but how the crowd reacts when the majority of them are just waiting for â€œthat one song.â€ And Modest Mouse is a good band, but thereâ€™s no denying that they will draw that type of audience from â€˜Float On.â€™ Being that the song hit back in 2005, itâ€™s clear just from watching them play that theyâ€™re not only used to this but have learned how to use it to their advantage. They donâ€™t pull the clichÃ© move and use it as the encore, but throw it a little more than midway through the set, as if it were any other song. Thereâ€™s not big show of â€œalright, now hereâ€™s the song you all came to hear,â€ itâ€™s just simply there. And by putting it there in the set you give the less familiar audience members a chance to hear some other material without making them wait 15+ songs for it. Itâ€™s a delicate balance and Modest Mouse strikes it quite well. Of course it helps that their other material is great as well. Songs like â€˜Dashboardâ€™ and â€˜The World at Largeâ€™ sounded full and cram packed with instrumental layers coming from the production of the festivalâ€™s main stage. It helped having what seemed like a legion of fans going 100% for every single song on the set, too.
Bookending day 2 of the festival with another Las Vegas band, this one considerably larger than the first, was the Killers. Having been on hiatus since 2010, the hype around the return of the Killers was massive. Though they tend to be a bit overrated and have a penchant for being extremely stubborn with photographers (making my job that much harder), itâ€™s impossible to deny their ability to pull a crowd. Especially considering the current mainstream musical climate that seems to demand a non-stop presence or else a band risks losing their â€œstatus.â€ Not so with the Killers. After being gone for a full two years, theyâ€™re still able to draw just as well, if not better. The hiatus seemed to benefit the band if anything, instead of people forgetting about them, the demand for the band actually grew. Having headlined Madison Square Garden prior to the hiatus, itâ€™s easy to see the band returning to a similar level of success. Especially after seeing their set at Firefly. Definitely the â€œbiggestâ€ headliner of the weekend, hence the Saturday slot, they definitely played like it. Bringing with them a strong amount of production for a festival and the massive hits that a band of their caliber has, itâ€™s hard to deny that the Killers know how to put on a show. Opening with â€˜Somebody Told Me,â€™ arguably their biggest hit, they made it clear that they werenâ€™t pulling any punches and were there simply to blow people away. And if the sound of the screams from the crowd is any indication, they definitely succeeded. Ironically enough this billing was the main reason for going to Firefly, even though Iâ€™m not as enraptured with the band as everyone else is. Theyâ€™re a massive band to have headlining, and one of the few that isnâ€™t touring at the moment, and even I have to admit that hearing â€˜When You Were Youngâ€™ is an experience in itself.
YOUNG THE GIANT
Canvasback Music/Atlantic recording artists Grouplove have unveiled details of their headlining fall tour. The first round of dates will kick off on September 25th at the Roseland Theater in Portland, OR, and continue into November (see dates below). Support on select legs of the tour comes from Canvasback Music/Atlantic labelmates Alt-J and NYC-based MSMR. Additional dates to be announced shortly.
Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning on Friday, July 27th; however, pre-sale tickets will be available for purchase on Tuesday, July 24th, with the first 50 fans in each market receiving an exclusive tour poster. Additionally, all pre-sale ticket buyers will receive a download code for a free 3-song EP, including this rare Space Brother remix of “Tongue Tied” — http://snd.sc/MxdjQY. For more information about pre-sale tickets, http://grouplove.artistarena.com/.
On July 30th, Grouplove will partner with YouTube for a special “YouTube Presents” live performance and Q&A session. The entire event will be live-streamed at www.youtube.com/presents beginning at 1pm PT. “YouTube Presents” gives music fans an opportunity to get more into the music and artists they love with live performances and interviews. Launching from their San Bruno headquarters, YouTube Presents now hosts concerts and Q&A’s with musicians visiting their New York and Mountain View offices, as well as off site venues, bringing even more diverse talent to the platform and allowing artists to engage more with their fans.
In other news, Grouplove will perform their new single “Itchin’ On A Photograph” on TBS’ CONAN on August 7th. The appearance marks the national television debut of the song, which is already garnering early radio support from SiriusXM’s AltNation. “Itchin’ On A Photograph” is the third single off of Grouplove’s critically acclaimed debut full length “NEVER TRUST A HAPPY SONG,” and follows the band’s breakthrough smash “Tongue Tied,” which held the #1 spot on the Modern Rock charts for 3 consecutive weeks and remains in the top 5 at the format. Heralded as one of the “Greatest Songs of Summer” by Entertainment Weekly, “Tongue Tied” has been RIAA-certified Gold and continues to enjoy cross-over success on the Pop and Hot AC charts. Likewise, the companion music video for “Tongue Tied” has quickly become a mainstay on VH1 and enters into LARGE Rotation on the network’s playlist today. The official music video for “Tongue Tied” can be viewed at http://youtu.be/1x1wjGKHjBI. Grouplove recently performed “Tongue Tied” on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Today, as well as ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this year.
Grouplove is: Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar), Hannah Hooper (vocals, keys), Sean Gadd (bass, vocals), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals), Ryan Rabin (drums)
FALL TOUR 2012
9/25 – 10/14 with Alt-J
10/16 – 11/3 with MSMR
25 Portland, OR Roseland Theatre
26 Seattle, WA Moore Theater
1 San Francisco, CA Fillmore
4 Las Vegas, NV The Pool – The Cosmopolitan
8 St. Louis, MO Pagaent
9 Tulsa, OK Cain’s Ballrom
11 Houston, TX House of Blues
12 Helotes, TX Josabi’s
13 Dallas, TX House of Blues
14 New Orleans, LA HOB
16 Atlanta, GA Masquerade
17 Knoxville, TN Bijou Theater
23 Nashville, TN Cannery
24 Norfolk, VA NorVA
26 Pittsburgh, PA Altar Bar
27 Rochester, NY Water Street Music Hall
29 Washington, DC 930 Club
1 Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory
2 New York, NY Terminal 5
3 Boston, MA Royale
Make Music Pasadena took place on a rather warm and sunny Saturday, yet devoted fans managed to battle through the heat to see the headliners, Grouplove. But before their set, I had a chance catch up with the band to discuss their tour, artistic background, DIY attitude, and pranks.
How are you guys doing today?
Hannah Hooper: Good.
Christian Zucconi: Good, good. Weâ€™ve been on tour for like two and a half months and this is our last day of tour and it kind of wraps it up.
Arenâ€™t you hitting the festival circuit soon?
CZ: Actually no. We did a bunch of festivals already. We did Coachella, Sasquatch, and Bonnaroo this year.
You havenâ€™t had much rest have you?
HH: No. We got back last night from our headlining tour. So yeah, this is kind of our celebration.
This is with Reptar right? How was that tour?
HH: It was seriously incredible. They were such a fine band to tour with so having that kind of friendship is so important on tour.
CZ: We had the Company of Thieves too before Reptar, so they split it up. They were awesome too. We were lucky to play with those bands.
Youâ€™re also hitting up Japan soon right?
CZ: Yeah in August.
HH: Which is crazy!
CZ: Yeah, for this festival called Summerside.
Iâ€™ve been following you for awhile. I first saw you play a free show at the Satellite now youâ€™re selling out shows, playing festivals, getting on late night talk shows. Has all the success sunk in yet?
CZ: It hasnâ€™t hit me yet. Itâ€™s so very surreal.
HH: It definitely hasnâ€™t sunk in, which is crazy. Itâ€™s insane coming back to LA and hearing us on the radio. Itâ€™s so exciting! Itâ€™s kind of psychedelic (laughs). But weâ€™re excited for the whole time off too to let it sink in because this never happens. This is so rare and amazing.
I donâ€™t want to necessarily ask you about your origin story since itâ€™s pretty much out there, but have you gone back to Crete ever since your formation?
HH: We havenâ€™t.
Would you like to go back?
CZ: Yeah, I think one day we will go back.
HH: We have an idea that it might jinx us.
CZ: Yeah (laughs), like itâ€™ll unravel everything if we go back. Itâ€™s superstitious.
HH: The fact that we all met there is so bizarre already and the fact that it was Crete; none of us are big travelers or anything. Just the thought that we go there and kind of undo the magic spellâ€¦but a vacation sounds awesome (laughs).
CZ: Or just another month off to write new songs again.
The band is from all over the country and Sean is even from England. Does your background or where you came from play a big factor into your music?
CZ: Yeah everyone has different influences and different areas where they were brought up. It kind of makes it special.
HH: Weâ€™re so influenced by different things and it keeps our process unique.
Have you ever tried to start your own artist commune here in LA?
HH: I think we accidentally tried to. Christian and I were making a u-turn on a dead end in frog town right by the LA River and saw this place for rent and ended up renting it. It was like the bath house of a house that had a goth band in it. There was a painter there and a studio. It just ended up being this crazy, creative zone.
CZ: A creative dead end.
HH: Yeah a creative dead end (laughs).
Do you plan on bringing it back?
CZ: Well we moved out of that place because we were on the road so much. But some friends of ours have moved in there and theyâ€™re keeping it alive. But we want to eventually get a great creative space to live in.
HH: We would love that. Weâ€™ve been kind of bringing our artist commune on the road for the last year or two years.
Hannah, you specifically have an artistic background in painting. Does the music and your visual arts ever influence each other? Does anyone else in the band have any other artistic background?
HH: I think everyone is pretty crazy and artistic in our band in general. The fact that I came into the band unexpectedly as a painter is just another way that the five of us get together and do things differently and donâ€™t have a process. I approach the music the way that I would a painting â€“ I donâ€™t want to be repeating myself and always trying to keep the process new.
So you bring the visual aspect to the band?
CZ: Yeah, everything visual. Sheâ€™s branded us completely from day one.
Itâ€™s like a DIY-type of thing and keeping it in-house.
CZ: Yeah, yeah.
HH: I mean Ryan produces all our stuff.
(At this point, Hannah introduces me to two other members of the band, guitarist Andrew Wessen and drummer Ryan Rabin, who joins in on the interview.)
Ryan, you produced the album. Was that planned or did you seek out other producers? Itâ€™s kind of convenient to have an in-house producer.
Ryan Rabin: I think it was always planned. When we did the EP, thatâ€™s just how it happened. We werenâ€™t trying to be a band at that point, we were just doing it. Once it developed into the band, it was like what Hannah was doing with the art â€“ weâ€™re keeping it in-house and youâ€™re doing the production. It was how we always do it. There was never really talk of other producers. I mean I always wanted to do it too.
HH: Ryan was producing it accidentally because we werenâ€™t writing an EP. We were just writing songs as friends that he was recording. Itâ€™s hard to explain it but there was just no plan for this band to be headlining Make Music Pasadena (laughs).
Since you do it yourself, it leaves more of your own imprint and reveals more of who you are as a band.
RR: Weâ€™re also not one of those bands that has that big of a grasp that some other bands do, of doing the label side of things ourselves or getting into the marketing and advertising. Given that we do trust people with a lot of that other stuff, we like to maintain 100% creative control because the other stuff, people know what theyâ€™re doing and we donâ€™t.
HH: Itâ€™s the freedom too and itâ€™s an amazing freedom to have as an artist. You trust your team and have people supporting you so you can just make art. I mean, thatâ€™s the dream right?
The title of your debut album is called Never Trust a Happy Song so it forces you to pay attention to the lyrics instead of just the sound aspect to it. Have you ever felt betrayed by a song?
CZ: The last time I was betrayed by a song was â€œPumped-Up Kicksâ€ (by Foster the People). We were touring with those guys and we finally started listening to it, then (lead vocalist) Mark (Foster) told us what it was about and I was like â€œOhâ€¦OK.â€ (laughs)
RR: Not even betrayed. You listen to something enough and you realize that itâ€™s about something else â€“ whether it was happy to you to begin with or sad to begin with and then it comes to mean something else to you. You feel a different nostalgia as you grow with the song and things completely change. Just like relationships can take on different meanings as the band grows, a song can take on a completely different meaning just by listening to it enough. Itâ€™s the same as a weird band name can sound weird at first and then to hear it enough, itâ€™s like â€œwoah, I guess Coldplay is a good band name. Nirvana? Cool, guys.â€ (laughs)
The title reminds me of when I spoke to Gareth of Los Campesinos! and he mentioned that fans would go up to him saying that his songs would them happy or cheer them. But in reality, the songs had lyrics that were really dark, like theyâ€™re about getting out of a relationship or something depressing.
RR: â€œThanks for understanding!â€
The album title really shows that you have to focus on the lyrics because theyâ€™re such an important aspect to a song.
HH: Yeah, absolutely.
I read in an interview with The Naked and Famous about a prank that David and Andrew did on Davidâ€™s sister. Could you describe more about that?
Andrew Wessen: We were playing with them in Oakland at this place called New Parish. We had just played with them before and taken this photo where me and David look identical. It was really scary, like more than my brother even. I knew his sister was coming and he hadnâ€™t seen her in a long time, so we got word that she was there and we came up with the idea super quick that I put on a bunch of his clothes, basically, and stood with their band with my back to the entrance of the room. When she came up to me, she was like â€œDavid!â€ and I was like â€œoh sister!â€ or totally something youâ€™d never say to your sister. For a good two or three feet she had no idea that it wasnâ€™t him and she was looking right at me. And then only at six inches away, she just freaked out and screamed, â€œoh my god who are you?!â€
HH: (laughs) Thatâ€™s so scary!
AW: We all had a good laugh about it. We actually look that much alike. Itâ€™s scary.
Do you play a lot of pranks on bands that you go out on tour with?
CZ: Usually on the last night of the tour, we try to pull some time of prank like a funny walk-on song.
Did you do one with Reptar?
CZ: Yeah, it didnâ€™t work out that well.
HH: Actually they said it was hysterical. But we couldnâ€™t tell that they thought it was funny.
CZ: What song was that?
HH: â€œWhatâ€™s Your Fantasy?â€ (by Ludacris)
AW & HH: (sings) â€œI wanna li-li-lick you from yoâ€™ head to your toes.â€
CZ: There was that moment of confusion where they were like â€œWhat are we doing? I guess we go on.â€
HH: They were awesome about it. I think they thought it was a mistake though, like something was wrong.
Whatâ€™s the rest of 2012 like for you?
CZ: Like we said, Japan and weâ€™re going on another headlining run in the fall.
You donâ€™t stop, do you? (laughs)
HH: No (laughs). But we actually are going to stop. I think we have some secrets building up, but a lot more creative and weâ€™re going to make a bunch of stuff with our hands. Take a little time off the road.
Has the scavenger hunt (on Twitter) happened yet?
CZ: We did a few cities.
HH: I felt people were following me around, looking for clues and stuff. I was like â€œI need to think this through a little betterâ€ (laughs).
CZ: Yeah, we need to perfect it a little bit better.
Grouplove plays the Firefly Festival on July 21st. Find out more of their tour dates at www.grouplovemusic.com
Written by Ace Ubas, Photos by Marcello Ambriz
There really is nothing better than free festivals, especially Make Music Pasadena which has been going on for five years strong in the gorgeous city of Pasadena and has been growing vastly each time. Stages were located throughout the historic Old Town, while shutting down a portion of Colorado Boulevard. This yearâ€™s lineup featured bands that have been on the rise in the past year or so such as Electric Guest, Grouplove, Grimes, and Cults. Of course, the festival wasnâ€™t limited to those bands as the smaller stages featured tons of local acts spanning a diverse music genre range. Unfortunately, I was able to cover only the main stage and was unable to cover Grimes, who played about a mile away from the main stage. For the folks in southern California that were unable to make it this year, hopefully youâ€™ll be there next year. Did I mention that itâ€™s free?
The Happy Hollows opened up the main-stage about half-past noon. If you know me, then youâ€™ll know that I simply love and adore this band. Theyâ€™re easily one of my favorite bands to see live because theyâ€™re one of the most fun acts to see with the amounts of energy and genuine joy that they bring on stage. Though the sun was at its peak and the crowd was in the midst of arriving, those that braved through the heat witnessed a set that didnâ€™t disappoint. The band is comprised of vocalist/guitar-virtuoso Sarah Negahdari, bassist/keyboardist Charlie Mahoney, guitarist Matt Fry and drummer Richy Epolito (the latter two are new faces). Having wrapped up their as-of-yet untitled sophomore LP, their set consisted of new songs. If youâ€™ve seen them live recently, youâ€™ll notice that they added a new dynamic in their songs by adding more synths to it, akin to â€œHigh Wireâ€ (which you may have heard in a certain Samsung commercial a couple of years ago). Songs such as â€œWhispers,â€ â€œAmethyst,â€ â€œEndless,â€ and â€œGalaxiesâ€ feature synth melodies and also showcase the bandâ€™s impressive musicianship. Negahdariâ€™s always impressive guitar ability brings to mind early Sonic Youth while the stellar and stout rhythm section by Mahoney, Fry, and Epolito is reminiscent of Blonde Redhead and The Pixies. They finished up their set with a familiar tune in â€œLieutenantâ€ and another new number in â€œChoplifter.â€ On the former, however, the band experienced some sound issues as Negahdariâ€™s guitar kept cutting out, especially during the songâ€™s most blistering part that featured precise finger-tapping. But regardless of the issues, the Happy Hollows still put on a great set. At this point, they really should be on your radar in the next few months as they look to put out their upcoming release.
The Los Angeles-based Electric Guest is easily one of the hottest bands of 2012. From playing a free residency at the Echo to playing on The Late Show with David Letterman and numerous festivals around the world, they have certainly skyrocketed in fame and success in such a short amount of time. By the time they got on, a block of Colorado Boulevard was heavily packed with people who were patiently waiting under the hot weather. Their set consisted of songs from their acclaimed debut Mondo, providing a diverse sound of funk, soul, blues, and rock. Slow-churner â€œAmberâ€ got everyone to sing along and moving to the thick bass riffs. Their single â€œThis Head I Holdâ€ received the biggest cheers (to no surprise) that displayed vocalist Asa Tacconeâ€™s impressive falsetto while keyboardist Tory Dahlhoffâ€™s piano melodies got the crowd to dance. To round out their set, they played â€œTroubleman,â€ a seven-minute number that was as great live as it is on record. Itâ€™s practically composed of three parts that opens with Taccone singing the first couple of verses with an acoustic guitar until drummer Matthew Compton picks up the tempo with his steady and solid drumming. The great musicianship on-stage was mesmerizing enough that the crowd was sucked-in for the entire duration of the song.
New York-based Cults were up next, bringing their signature sound of vintage tunes to the massive crowd of Pasadena. Regardless of what vocalist Madeline Follin or guitarist Brian Oblivion did, girls were screaming their lungs out at every opportunity. With Cults still riding the success of their acclaimed self-titled debut, their set consisted of songs stemming from it. It was impressive that the crowd sang along word for word throughout the entire set, but thatâ€™s what a band like Cults does â€“ create infectious tunes that make it easy for everyone to follow. Follinâ€™s impressive vocals really stood out in open air, hitting her higher registers to near-perfection, especially on â€œMost Wantedâ€ and â€œWalk at Night.â€ Oblivion delivered sharp riffs especially on â€œNever Heal Myselfâ€ where it reverberated throughout the whole block. Of course, it was â€œAbductedâ€ and â€œGo Outsideâ€ that got the crowd screaming insanely. Who can blame them right? Thatâ€™s what ridiculously catchy hooks to do you.
As the headliners for the afternoon, everyone in attendance tried their best to fill the block and alley as best they could within safety regulations. Fans even trekked the strenuous mile or so after Grimesâ€™ set on a separate stage (where I hear they filled a nearby parking structure that worried the local law enforcement). Some ambitious and dedicated fans even climbed surrounding rooftops to catch Grouplove. It was really a perfect atmosphere since Grouplove just closed out their first-ever headlining tour and this festival served as their homecoming.
Each and every time that Iâ€™ve seen Grouplove live, they never ever disappoint. Itâ€™s really amazing to see a band showing intense energy from start to finish without ever slowing down. Whether itâ€™s bassist Sean Gadd pumping up the crowd or vocalist/keyboardist Hannah Hooperâ€™s joyous dancing, the band gave 110% to their set and the crowd. Whatâ€™s even more impressive is that the fans were right along with them, screaming, dancing, singing along, and holding up their homemade banners to show their love. This happy relationship between performer and audience was perfect for a summer day. They opened their set with â€œItchinâ€™ on a Photographâ€ and â€œLove Will Save Your Soul,â€ which featured vocalist/guitarist Christian Zucconiâ€™s yearning vocals and on the latter the crowd shouted emphatically the backup vocal parts. They slowed down the pace with â€œGold Coastâ€ from their self-titled EP that not many people were too familiar with, but followed it up with a more familiar tune by playing the highly popular â€œNaked Kids.â€ Gadd took over lead vocals on â€œChloeâ€ while being backed by guitarist Andrew Wessen, who delivered psychedelic riffs filled with tremolo. For their encore, the crowd started to get even crazier as they nearly toppled over the front security barricade because of their jumping and dancing. But nevertheless, no one seemed to get hurt and enjoyed themselves with a few crowd surfers as Grouplove played their top hit â€œTongue Tied.â€ They ended the afternoon with an up-tempo cover of Whitney Houstonâ€™s â€œI Wanna Dance with Somebodyâ€ and another fan-favorite in â€œColorsâ€ that surely satisfied the crowd.
By Michel Dussack
Grouplove havenâ€™t been around for very long (their debut LP came out just nine months ago), but thanks to an infectious set of tunes, and a push into the mainstream via an iPod commercial, theyâ€™re already selling out decent sized clubs like Webster Hall. Along with them on this tour are Reptar, an indie dance quintet from the college town of Athens, Georgia.
While Reptarâ€™s debut LP came out just last month, theyâ€™ve already supported several high profile bands on tour, most notably, Foster the People on their fall tour. The band has been getting considerable buzz since the 2011 release of their EP â€˜Oblangle Fizz Yâ€™allâ€™ and the recent release of their debut full length, â€˜Body Faucetâ€™ and lead single â€˜Sebastianâ€™ have only furthered that. Their music is hard to describe to anyone who hasnâ€™t listened, and the band describe themselves as â€œdisco dustâ€ which is about as vague as it gets. Theyâ€™re part rock, part dance, and all awesome.
For as good as the band is on record though, itâ€™s live where they truly shine. While it took a while for them to get the crowd going with an extended slower intro track, by the end of their 40 minute set, they converted the packed venue into fans. Highlights of their set included â€˜Blastoffâ€™ and an untitled new song that had everyone in the crowd bouncing with the band. Singer and guitarist Graham Ulicny was the star of the show, his vocals were spot on and he provided a positive energy on stage thatâ€™s hard to translate on paper. When it came time for their set to end, the crowd seemed genuinely upset to say goodbye, though they definitely were excited for Grouplove.
When Grouplove took the stage to two of their most popular non singles – â€˜Lovely Cupâ€™ and â€˜Itchinâ€™ on a Photographâ€™ â€“ the floor of Webster Hall was bouncing so much that it was difficult to steady my camera. If that doesnâ€™t show how much infectious energy the band gives off, then I donâ€™t really know what does. This leads me to the one negative aspect that should be brought up about this show – the pacing. While starting off with two of your most upbeat songs is indeed a great way to get the crowd going, it wasnâ€™t until the end of the night that the band seemed able to recapture that energy. Slower numbers like â€˜Bettyâ€™s a Bombshellâ€™ seemed to put a damper on the crowd, but only for a short while. Itâ€™s not that any of the songs were bad; itâ€™s just that some material seemed more captivating for a live environment than others.
The most impressive thing about a Grouplove show is watching the different members take lead vocal duty on certain songs. Everyone in the band has their own style (and accents) and it came across in the eclectic 75 minute performance. One of the standouts of the night was a brand new song, entitled â€˜Gonna Get Highâ€™ which is about, as Hannah Hooper so eloquently put it, â€œgetting highâ€. â€˜Slowâ€™, led by Hooper, started off exactly as one would expect it to, but was given a raucous extended outro to close out the bands set. When they returned for their encore, it was back to Christian Zucconi, now sporting purple hair, for lead vocals. The band ended the show with a trifecta of â€˜Tongue Tiedâ€™, a portion of Whitney Houstonâ€™s â€˜I Wanna Dance With Somebodyâ€™ and â€˜Coloursâ€™. With this, the band ended the night just as they started it â€“ full of energy, with lots of jumping and yelling.
1. Lovely Cup
2. Itchinâ€™ on a Photograph
3. Love Will Save Your Soul
4. Bettyâ€™s a Bombshell
5. Gold Coast
6. Gonna Get High
7. Naked Kids
10. Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten
12. Donâ€™t Say Oh Well
13. Tongue Tied
14. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston cover)
Canvasback Music/Atlantic recording artists Grouplove have unveiled a slate of high profile national television appearances. The Los Angeles based band will be performing their hit single â€œTongue Tiedâ€ on NBCâ€™s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on June 19th and Today on July 9th.
Featured on the bandâ€™s critically acclaimed debut album â€œNEVER TRUST A HAPPY SONG,â€ â€œTongue Tiedâ€ is currently #3 at Alternative Radio and beginning its ascent up the CHR/Top 40 and Billboard Hot 100 charts. â€œTongue Tiedâ€ was an early favorite of NPRâ€™s All Songs Considered and is heralded as one of the â€œGreatest Songs of Summerâ€ in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly. Last month, the cast of FOXâ€™s â€œGleeâ€ performed a memorable cover of â€œTongue Tiedâ€ during the hit seriesâ€™ May 15th episode. Earlier this year, Grouplove delivered a raucous performance of the song on ABCâ€™s Jimmy Kimmel Live, following previous late night television appearances on CBSâ€™ Late Show with David Letterman, NBCâ€™s Last Call with Carson Daly, and TBSâ€™ CONAN. â€œTongue Tiedâ€ appeared in a wildly popular Apple iPod Touch commercial late last year to kick off the songâ€™s campaign.
Grouplove is currently in the midst of a sold-out North American headlining tour that has also featured stops at some of the yearâ€™s biggest music gatherings, including the Coachella Music and Arts Festival and Sasquatch Music Festival. The band performs at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on June 10th, followed by their remaining headline shows at Philadelphiaâ€™s Theater of Living Arts on June 11th, New York Cityâ€™s Webster Hall on June 12th, and Washington DCâ€™s 930 Club on June 13th. The band will continue to perform at various music festivals and radio shows throughout summer, before joining Mumford & Sons for their â€œGentlemen of the Roadâ€ Stopover in Monterey, CA, on August 25 (see attached itinerary).
Grouplove is: Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar), Hannah Hooper (vocals, keys), Sean Gadd (bass, vocals), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals), Ryan Rabin (drums)
TOUR DATES â€“ SUMMER 2012
(Headlining Dates noted by *)
10 Manchester, TN Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
11 Philadelphia, PA The Theater of Living Arts * (SOLD OUT)
12 New York, NY Webster Hall * (SOLD OUT)
13 Washington, DC 930 Club* (SOLD OUT)
14 Boston, MA WFNX Presents: The Seaport Six
16 Pasadena, CA Make Music Pasadena 2012
14 Cincinnati, OH Bunbury Festival
21 Dover, DE Firefly Festival
28 Sacramento, CA Launch Sacramento
18 Tokyo, JAPAN Summer Sonic
19 Osaka, JAPAN Summer Sonic
25 Monterey, CA Gentlemen of the Road Stopover
KROQ 106.7 FM announces 20th Annual KROQ Weenie Roast y Fiesta, Saturday, May 5, at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, California. This year’s lineup features: Coldplay, Incubus, The Offspring, Silversun Pickups, Pennywise, Angels & Airwaves, The Dirty Heads, Garbage, AWOLNATION, Grouplove, Of Monsters & Men, and Walk The Moon.
Exclusive KROQ Street Team On-sale is Thursday, April 5th at 12:00PM (PST). Tickets are available online at Livenation.com or Ticketmaster.com only (no phone, box office or outlets).
You must be a member of the KROQ street team to get the password. To get in on the Exclusive KROQ Street Team on sale, go to KROQ.com right now and become a member of the KROQ Street Team.
KROQ.com has complete details.