Chicago – It’s always a great surprise when you unexpectedly know the opening band at a concert, which is why I was so excited when it turned out that 1,2,3 was the first opener for the Grouplove concert at Lincoln Hall Saturday night! The trio had a strong onstage presence (and the lead singer had some fantastic dimples) and they started things off right with their song Work, one of the band’s more popular tunes, which includes the totally relatable lyrics, “Gold card, platinum card, plastic card too/I don’t really give a damn about you/I keep all my earnings in a box marked shoes.” Unfortunately, halfway through the set, the band had “tech diffs” as they called it, but they kept on going like champs, and they rounded out their set with a new favorite for me – Sleeping on the Floor. I like to think of 1,2,3 as a band for people who enjoy indie rock as well as Bruce Springsteen, so if you fall into both of those categories definitely check this band out.
Hospitality took the stage next. The band had a more mellow sound, which set them apart nicely from the other two acts of the evening, who were much more dance/punk. It’s always refreshing to see a band with a female lead, and lead singer Amber Papini’s soft, melodious voice led the way nicely for the band’s twee sound. This Brooklyn based band was a little underappreciated by the crowd who was looking for a more intense sound from their Grouplove night, but I definitely thought they were worth looking into further.
Finally, Grouplove took the stage in the only fashion appropriate: with gusto. They literally came sprinting onto the stage. What better way to make an entrance? The excitement in the venue was palpable, and the crowd was literally on their feet and jumping as Grouplove started their set. They might also have been jumping for joy over lead singer Christian’s outfit. The man was rocking out in a 70’s-esque mumu, topped off by shoulder length, dyed blue hair – and he was wearing it well. They started things rolling with Don’t Say Oh Well – a good choice for this band because the song is highly personal, and also contains a little shout out to themselves when Christian sings, “and I told my bandmates, they are my soul mates.” That feeling of community between the bandmates came across nicely last night, especially when Lincoln Hall continued to have those tech diffs, and the band doubled or tripled up on the working microphones, rocking out together in very close quarters, but still seeming to enjoy themselves. Almost every band member had a chance in the spotlight – besides the drummer, each member headlined a song, and while Christian is an excellent lead singer, it’s always nice to get that diversity of sound and style at a concert. They cycled through almost every song off of their new album Never Trust a Happy Song and they also took a couple from their self titled EP. Obvious crowd favorites were Lovely Cup, Naked Kids, and the closer for the show, Colours (I gauged the level of excitement of the crowd by the force with which the guy in front of me was banging his dreads and, let me tell you, it was fever pitch when the band made it to Colours. I was afraid either he was going to get whiplash or I was going to end up with a mouthful of hair).
Grouplove’s quirky, intense, emotional feel came across well in person, and I thought their narrative style songs, especially Naked Kids, translated particularly well on stage. If you’ve heard the band’s recorded material and enjoy it they can’t really fail to disappoint in person – they sound spot on to their recorded songs when they’re onstage, and you get the added visual spectacle of a group of five people obviously highly enjoying themselves. I have a feeling this band is on the rise, and at some point tickets are going to be something above ridiculously cheap, so I’d recommend going to see them whenever they come to your city next.