September 15, 2013

With an intimate backdrop of an old chapel and string lights, Grouplove took the stage around a quarter past ten to rock out for the next hour and a half. While this show was technically the stripped down acoustic set (the previous night at The Independent was a “normal” show), the atmosphere at The Chapel was by no means calm. San Francisco was the third city on the See Saw Tour, where Grouplove spent two nights in each city - one rock show and one acoustic. Starting with “I’m With You,” the opening track to their latest record Spreading Rumours, all 500 attendees at the sold out show rose to their feet, dancing along with Hannah Hooper (vocals, keyboard.) By the time they reached the chorus of the next song, “Itchin’ on a Photograph,” the crowd had abandoned their seats and rushed to the stage, forming a pit at a normally pit-less venue. Grouplove fed off this energy and followed through with a mix of hits from their first album Never Trust a Happy Song and their latest, which was released two days after the show. At one point, singer Christian Zucconi exclaimed “Well this doesn’t feel like the acoustic show very much!” to which drummer Ryan Rabin responded “But we’re not complaining! This is awesome!” 

A brief break in the show allowed for Hooper to announce it was her sister’s birthday, and proceeded to embarrass her by bringing her onstage with cupcakes and candles. The rest of Hooper’s family was dancing in the crowd, fitting right in, proving that there isn’t one generic audience for Grouplove.

Adding to Grouplove’s technical skills were a variety of instruments onstage, each played by different band members throughout the night. For example guitarist Andrew Wessen took over the drums while Ryan Rabin played piano for a beautiful acoustic rendition of “Ways to Go.” Better yet, four of the five band members sang on most songs, creating wonderful harmonies. Instead of their usual Whitney Houston cover, Grouplove experimented with an interpretation of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End,” dedicated to the couple that got engaged on stage the previous night. The crowd’s energy surged as the band closed out the night with a big finish, their first single “Colours.”

This was the fifth time I’d seen Grouplove and with each show they get slightly more refined. They’ve gotten even tighter as a live act, thanks to their nearly two straight years of touring. Grouplove has proved themselves to be one of the most energetic and fun shows to see, packing a liveliness rarely seen among performers with just the right amount of crowd interaction. If anyone in the crowd wasn’t sure of that before, by the end of the night they were certainly convinced. 

Photos by Sam Engel / Senior Staff