Concert Review: Smallpools, MSMR, Grouplove, March 30, 9:30 Club

Infectious (adjective):
(of a disease or disease-causing organism) likely to be transmitted to people, organisms, etc., through the environment; or
likely to spread infection; or
likely to spread or influence others in a rapid manner.
Thank goodness for the third definition of infectious, because after the Smallpools/MS MR/Grouplove show on Sunday at the 9:30 Club, I felt like I’d been infected… but in the best of ways. Searching for a word to describe my unexpected Sunday funday euphoria, I told a friend the show had been infectious.

“Gross” was his, according to the first two definitions of the word, reply.

But what infected me after the show had nothing to do with disease or sickness – it was all about wiggling/fist-pumping/shout-out-loud energy.
In other words, this show rocked for almost four hours straight.
I let myself get excited the moment I walked into the 9:30 Club – something I don’t usually do – because the size of the crowd was impressive from moment one. It’s hard to pack a DC club for a Sunday show, but the renowned venue was already stuffed to the gills for the first opener and the crowd was ready for a good time.

Smallpools, an LA-based group, instantly delivered. The group (who hung out in the crowd afterward to the delight of the balcony audience) rocked, danced, and bantered with the audience at the level of any age-old headliner. They got delighted shouts from a group of devoted fans in the front of the room who’d been hanging at the 9:30 Club since 11 AM (troopers) and a general ovation from an audience super pumped to participate in a band picture with the excellent props of… two plastic dogs. What? Not sure. But it worked. On the music front, the band played its standard awesome tracks, ending on Dreaming which is an earworm if I ever heard one (aka it hasn’t been off my repeat since I sat down at my desk this morning. Play it one more time? Yes please. Ok, and then once more.).

MS MR took the stage after, building on the Smallpools momentum with their own edgy twist. Leading the group was Lizzy Plapinger who came on stage rocking a skin tight pin stripe suit and bright pink hair – reminded me of a Gwen Stefani 2.0. She absolutely dominated the stage, belting out favorites like Fantasy and No Trace. The band has a totally different energy level live as opposed to recorded that’s worth investing in to see. The OTHER, perhaps lesser known bonus of seeing MS MR live, is that Lizzy hi-jacked her band member’s modern dance studies back in college – meaning her back up men have some mean moves they reveal at unexpected intervals.

Time check: 10 PM. Sound check: Rap. Like HARD rap. (Not going to lie: my first thought: who’s coming on next? 2 Chains? Am I in the right place?) The already primed audience goes wild. Grouplove explodes on stage. Omigoodness.  I was in the right place. Grouplove is the most compelling evidence I’ve ever had that there’s something behind “West coast best coast.” Although some of the band’s members originated in NYC, the group’s first show and “home base” is LA and everything about them screams California cool. I mean, this band doesn’t give two hoots about what anyone thinks or any preconceived categories (their sound played with everything from ghetto rap to Caribbean reggae; their look ranged from male braids to male mumus), and it’s amazing. My favorite comment was made by the guitarist (or bassist? Music expert over here…) who told the crowd NOT to make fun of his tye-dye shirt. His friend Marley had made it and it was super cool. Yessir.

You know what else was super cool? Hannah Hooper, dressed head to toe in skin tight black lace spandex and bleached blonde hair and busting out wrist-dance-moves I instantly adopted as my own. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a musician with more flexible joints. This woman’s necks, wrists, hips, and knees never stopped bending, flexing and popping. Rock star behavior. The group jammed through their playlist, covered Beyonce’s Drunk in Love, and ended with Ways to Go to a crowd going crazy. Imagine neon lights, pulsing beats, and non-stop energy.

One word for this show.

Posted on by halley in Concerts, Everything

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