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Grouplove Concert Review: A Rock Adventure

GROUPLOVE took the stage at Roadrunner in Boston on March 29.
GROUPLOVE took the stage at Roadrunner in Boston on March 29. By Tracy Jiang
By Hannah M. Wilkoff, Crimson Staff Writer

Grouplove, the American alternative rock band best known for their 2011 hit single “Tongue Tied,” took the stage at Roadrunner in Boston on March 29. On the second to last stop of their “Rock and Roll You Won’t Save Me” Tour, they impressed the audience with their comprehensive show, filled with energetic vocals and dynamic lighting that created an immersive experience.

The solo opener Bully, a band including Nashville-based Alicia Bognanno, was a solid way to start the show. Although her band fell through for the tour and Bognanno had to perform solo at the last minute, her stage presence and emotion-filled raspy vocals conveyed heartache and conflicted emotions; in her opening song, “All I Do,” Bognanno sang about the difficulty of leaving a relationship that she’d lost herself in, and she showed her raw emotions in a cover of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You.” Playing electric guitar for the first part of the set and then switching to keyboard for the remaining songs, she demonstrated her musical versatility. Driven by octaves in the bass, the keyboard created an even more intimate atmosphere for the solo performance, particularly in “Lose You,” as she sang about figuring out how to accept change. Although missing the support and fullness that would come from a full band, her performance was still a strong opening to the night.

After bathing in blue light as they did a soundcheck of their instruments, Grouplove walked back out together and began their set with “Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten,” starting with mellow guitar strumming and Christian Zucconi on vocals and rhythm guitar. The bass line came in after a couple of minutes into the song, and the true rock concert began. The band was highlighted in green and red rays, outlining the figures of the seven-member band. The opening was a great transition into the show, building up the energy from the calm beginning.

Throughout the beginning songs of the set, both Zucconi and Hannah Hooper, on vocals and keyboards, were impressive. Zucconi’s earnest tone and Hooper’s commanding and smooth resonance were a good combination. Switching off on leading the verses on different songs, their vocals provided a wider variety of sounds which added more depth to the concert, such as Hooper’s verses about a search for comfort in “Malachi” and Zucconi’s lines about impermanence in “Cheese.” In “Deleter,” their energy was contagious as they ran across the stage and the lead guitar lines filled the room. Hooper and Zucconi were especially moving when they sang the back and forth chorus , “I got a little bit longer / I got a ways to go,” in “Ways to Go.” The song was a highlight of the set, with their strong collaborative power and ability to engage with the crowd.

Overall the beginning of the set brought up the energy and showed the full power of the group. The lighting was unique to each song, but the colorful strobes and flashes of white light in “Borderlines and Aliens” were slightly overpowering and took away from the music.

In the middle part of the set, the band experimented with smaller instrumentations and more lowkey songs. Performing “Girl,” a deep cut off of their 2013 album “Spreading Rumors,” Zucconni played keys while Hooper sang, showing off with vocal riffs throughout the chorus. Ultimately, the absence of a complete band acted as an interesting change in tempo. While “Hello” featured an energetic guitar solo, the night could have benefitted from more solos from the band members.

Hooper took a moment to encourage the crowd to make art. “You’re the only person who can make your art,” Hooper said.

With this encouragement, Hooper emphasized how important it is to get to know yourself better and be a better person. The band then launched into “Tongue Tied,” a crowd favorite. Cutting out to let the audience sing the chorus, the band brought together the entire venue. Going straight into a cover of Blur’s “Song 2,” the band kept the energy up and followed it with their new song, “Chances,” that featured a strong drum beat and a repetitive melody which allowed the listeners to get lost in the song.

The band ended their set with “Cream,” and the floating vocals were well-executed but lacked the intensity for a closing song. Coming back for an encore with “Itchin’ on a Photograph,” “Raspberry,” and “Colors,” the band had good energy and once again showed off the blend of their voices, but didn’t accomplish anything that they hadn’t previously done throughout the concert.

Overall, the 22-song set was energetic, earnest, and emotional. Although the concert could have benefitted from more instrumental experimentation, the band gave the Boston venue an entertaining show with a wide variety of songs that showcased both emotion-driven lyrics and modern rock.

—Staff writer Hannah M. Wilkoff can be reached at

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