Waiting for the band to start, I found myself in a sea of overly self-medicated young people. After asking one of them to politely refrain from leaning on me (I had a seven dollar beer to protect). I was told I was too old to be there. Then this absolute delight informed me I should be home with my wife (I am not married) and my five kids (I don’t even own a house plant). I was being shamed for being the Old Guy at the Show. I was captivated by the amazing rhetorical exchange. But sadly this ‘person’ with a sparkling personality disappeared into the crowd. Thankfully there was love coming my way…. GROUPLOVE.
The band formed in 2009 when singer and keyboardist Hannah Hooper convinced her boyfriend singer and guitarist Christian Zucconi to join her at an artist commune in Greece. That’s where they teamed up with the rest of the band to form GROUPLOVE. This is the first tour after an extended break for the birth of Hooper’s and Zucconi’s daughter.
A hype man came on stage to introduce the band because…. why not. That’s when the five musicians sprang on stage. The backdrop consisted of giant hands from their latest album Big Mess’ cover art painted by Hannah Hooper. I guess the band brought the heat because drummer Ryan Rabin, son of former Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin took off his shirt after only one song. A pink haired Hooper dressed in a belted black body suite never stopped smiling and dancing. A green haired Christian Zucconi dressed in his signature oversized t-shirt and ripped jeans lead the band through a fevered set.
Their hit Tongue Tied started right after Hooper ordered the crowd to lock their arms around each other. I guess you should expect these kinds of practices at a GROUPLOVE show. The song’s bouncy chorus made the crowd’s chain brake and bodies started jumping to the beat unchained.
Lead guitarist Andrew Wessen sang the fuzzy synth heavy song Cannonball. It could easily be mistaken for a noise pop Sleigh Bells record. The rest of the band joined in at the end while bouncing along to the infectious beat.
|Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi|
The only cover of the night was the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage. The attitude of the 1990’s song fit the band perfectly. It was sad when Hooper had to inform the young crowd the 22-year-old song wasn’t one of their own.
Things slowed down when Zucconi performed Enlighten Me with only his acoustic guitar. The song describes the passing of time. Let’s call it quits and see what the future holds/I’ve been here before, yeah, we just went down this road/A long time to feel young, short time to get old. The band joined him near the end because they are a group of love after all.
Before the final song Colours, Hooper expressed her gratitude towards the females in the opening bands. Stating it’s nice to tour with talented women so it’s not just her and their daughter traveling with the guys. The house music played them off stage with the appropriate Beatles’ All You Need is Love.
Muna a trio from Los Angeles was one of two opening bands. I would compare their sound to Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill era. The members are gay and their confessional songs produce compelling takes of a wide range of emotions. Lead singer Katie Gavin wore a dress that was made up of silky trash bag like material. The song Winterbreak combined with Gavin’s movements and haunting voice mesmerized the sold out crowd. When she addressed the audience between songs, someone from the audience yelled out, “It’s okay to be gay.” Gavin repeated the statement before she went into her next song.
Dilly Dally, a Toronto based band, opened the show. Many of their songs had the same feel as Nirvana’s In Bloom. Katie Monks‘ raspy voice sounded like she just woke up making her instantly likable. The grudge guitar playing by Liz Ball who was sporting a half shaved head (I first thought she was wearing a weird hat) brought their music to 1990’s guitar driven glory. After seeing a doctor that day, lead singer Katie Monks was happy to share the news she didn’t have strep throat. Having an inflamed throat could be one of the reasons their debut album is entitled Sore.
Despite being elderly shammed. I still feel lucky to be able to see so much live music. It’s a celebration of life. GROUPLOVE summed it up best stating, “A long time to feel young, short time to get old.” See you at the next show. I’ll be the one proud to be the Old Guy at the Show.