Back for the acoustic portion of the electric/acoustic Seesaw Tour, Grouplove played a sold-out Alberta Rose Theater September 12. With the large burgundy curtained backdrop, cascading draped extension lighting held over from the night before, and the stage adorned with a hand full of grandma’s table lamps placed for effect, provided an intimate living room experience.
Grouplove started the evening with a warmer, relaxed sparkle of the electric lead track from Spreading Rumors, I’m With You. Lead by Christian Zucconi and Andrew Wessen, both sporting acoustic guitars, they conducted a softer interpretation of the band’s high energy joy ride, enticing the seated crowd to still bob to the beat.
Rolling into the next two songs, Love Will Save Your Soul and Naked Kids, Grouplove continued with their trademark flare, gliding their way through the acoustic evening. But with their new album out in just a few days, the band was ready to showcase spirited acoustic versions of the album’s more electric personality. Covering six new songs, including School Boy, Shark Attack, and Hippy Hill, the latter was a lighter, cleaner sounding version, sans the heavy synth bridge from that night before, and emphasizing the organic anthem, to rather be a hippy than a hipster.
The smaller, seated theater held half the number of fans from the night before at the Star Theater. Viewing the attentive crowd from the edge of the stage frontwoman Hannah Hooper, more formally attired in a flowing, full length purple dress, commented surprisingly, “A seated show. Who would have ever thought?” She affably acknowledged their low tech lighting accompaniments, declaring the band was collecting lamps if fans had any they were willing to part with.
One of the evening’s highlights was the Spreading Rumors was Ways To Go. Its dance groove finally pulled the crowd to their feet. On a two musician switch, drummer Ryan Rabin to stepped out from behind his drum kit and played piano. It also provided always-wanted-to-play-the-drums guitarist, Andrew Wessen, to take a seat at filling in for Rabin, which is a tough act to follow. Having excited the dancing crowd, a playful Rabin warned the crowd, “Do not sit down!” which the crowd happily obliged throughout the remainder of the show.
But the songs that really shined during their acoustic performance were the emotionally touching Cruel and Beautiful World and the powerful, spiritual rendition of Gold Coast. Zucconi belted out a soaring vocal intro you might never hear outside of an acoustic setting, as he sang about the pointed lyrics reminder while striking a haunting quality. This is not something the effervescent Grouplove is thought of but all the more telling that the band is more than just an alternative danceable pop band, and fueled by multi-talented band members.
Grouplove dusted off a couple other gems that don’t see their way into the regular set list. Reaching back to the self-titled EP they kept the crowd bouncing with the upbeat feel-good wholeness of Don’t Say Oh Well, and slowly swayed to the somber reflective musings of Getaway Car, featuring bassist Sean Gadd on lead vocals. Gadd shared each track had not been played five and three year, respectively.
With the challenge of frequent touring and the promotion of a new album, Grouplove eagerly showcased the softer, equally creative side to their acoustic catalog, songs that just wouldn’t play the same in front of tens of thousands at a music festival. After frequent visits to Portland over the last couple of years, the band has cultivated a loyal relationship with their fans here which they appreciatively acknowledge each time they play.
The set did not have an encore because the band played a straight 17-song, 75 minute set concluding with two regular performed songs, Lovely Cup, and a rousing finale of Colours.
As the band members stepped to the front of the stage and waved good night, Zucconi let the crowd know they’d be back in December, which only means one thing. It will be another December to Remember. Don’t miss sharing the Grouplove in December and get your tickets early because they will sell out fast!