While the idea for Grouplove’s Seesaw Tour was (and is) a valiant one, it’d be safe to say the quintet just has too much energy, too much excitement, too much life to really pull it off. At least that seemed to be the case at the Triple Door in Seattle last night, where the band sought to play an acoustic set - whilst being plugged in the entire time.
I’d like to attribute this mishap to the fact this was the group’s first stop on the road, and as such, they were working out the kinks. However, I think it had more to do with the fact that the band had actually never done an arrangement of this sort.
In any other situation - possibly at any other show, this lack of acoustic vibes may have been the nail in the coffin. But for an act whose known for going absolutely nuts on stage, this toned-down set was a welcome surprise.
I think the beauty of Grouplove in general is their imperfections - the messy harmonies and synth-y sensibilities and bouncy delivery. It’s this raw presentation - Hannah Hooper skipping around the stage, Christian Zucconi switching between piano and guitar, Sean Gadd's flowing locks swirling in front of his face - that makes them such an entertaining live act. You never really know what to expect next (with the exception of lots of dancing), and that makes it all sorts of exciting. Their imperfections are perfection.
Those who attended the show at the Crocodile the previous night got the Full Monty. Not, like the naked Full Monty - like, the booming percussion and flashy lights. The energy and bombast and sweat. But the problem came in the fact that those who opted for the mellow show at the Triple Door - or those who attended both - got nearly the same thing on night two.
Sure, the drum kit was smaller. And they were trying with all their might to hold themselves to the stationary mikes (they usually go cordless). But it’d be difficult to discern whether the show was tamer because of their actual performance - or because the audience was sitting down.
The most “acoustic” feeling tracks came in the form of ballads, including “Cruel And Beautiful World” and “Gold Coast”. That’s where the vocals took the forefront, that’s where it felt most honest and stripped down. And that’s where they really shined. But even those tracks grew in to room-shaking dance tracks, aided by communal clapping that got everyone in the room worked up.
That being said, as the first stop on the tour, Seattle had the unique opportunity to play guinea pig for much of the band’s new material - and the crowd basked in the glory of being the first to hear new tracks, like “News To Me," live.
While an acoustic set it didn’t necessarily turn out to be, Grouplove successfully provided their biggest fans with an intimate look into their beautifully messy minds. And while they should have, could have, stripped the songs down more - the toned down, lounge vibe was enough to satiate the craving.
I’m With You
Itchin’ On A Photograph
News To Me
Close Your Eyes And Count To Ten
Ways To Go
Don’t Say Oh Well
Cruel And Beautiful World
True Love Will Find You In The End - Daniel Johnston cover