Grouplove Returns to First Avenue with the Big Mess Tour

GROUPLOVE vocalists Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper.

Grouplove vocalists Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper performing at First Avenue. Photo by Paul Patane

It had been four years in the making, but Grouplove lived up to the hype, making a splash when they returned to First Avenue last Saturday. With a new tour to support the release of their most recent album, Big Mess, the Los Angeles–based band took the stage with their patented exuberant energy, passion, and—naturally—love. Featuring a colorful backdrop, endless jumping around, a dynamic stage presence, and even a groupie Care Bear running across the stage in a blue suit, this show reminded the audience what live music is really all about.

Supported by punk-rock group Dilly Dally and dark-pop band Muna, indie rockers Grouplove made a memorable evening with a captivating 90-minute set. They breathed energy into the crowd as everyone sang along to fan favorites, including “Shark Attack,” “Colours,” platinum hit “Tongue Tied,” and the breakout single from their new album, “Welcome to Your Life.” The highlight of the evening came midway through the band’s triple encore, when they busted out “Ways to Go,” performing the fan favorite with so much enthusiasm and energy it was as if the concert had just begun. With the packed Mainroom thumping, vocalists Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi commanded respect. Sweat may have been pouring down Zucconi’s face, but he sang with the same enthusiasm as a kid singing in the shower when no one’s around to listen.

Hooper pauses for a breath, watching Zucconi.

Hooper pauses for a breath, watching Zucconi. Photo by Paul Patane

Many themes were present throughout the night, including fantasy, acceptance, and embracing what’s new and different—but love was the strongest and most obvious. The band’s name aside (and their origin story does indicate they have the perfect name), Hooper’s and Zucconi’s vocal styles and ranges melded perfectly together, creating sonic harmony. Like many strong couples both in and out of the workplace, they embraced their differences and complemented each other seamlessly. Separately, Zucconi in particular is the kind of vocalist you can take or leave, but with Hooper as his sidekick, his lyrics strike like a punch to the gut. Adding to the substance of their musicality during the show, the love the vocalists share for each other couldn’t be ignored. They were in sync, from their lyrics to how they looked at each other—or, in one instance that got the audience worked up in a frenzy, fell to the stage floor together.

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Guitarist Andrew Wessen performing. Photo by Paul Patane

Big Mess was two years in the making, with Hooper and Zucconi writing songs while taking a break from touring, partially due to the couple welcoming a child into the world. In addition to singing in tandem, Hooper plays the keyboards and Zucconi frequently doubles up by playing acoustic or electric guitar. The band’s other members are Andrew Wessen on guitar, Daniel Gleason on bass, and Ryan Rabin on drums. The North American leg of Grouplove’s tour ends December 7 in Portland, Oregon, before the band travels abroad to play festivals in Australia.

Bassist Daniel Gleason playing with drummer Ryan Rabin.

Bassist Daniel Gleason playing with drummer Ryan Rabin. Photo by Paul Patane

Released in September through Canvasback/Atlantic, Big Mess has been climbing the charts, with “Welcome to Your Life” cementing itself as a top single of 2016. In addition, the band has released two LPs, Never Trust a Happy Song (2011) and Spreading Rumours (2013).

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