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Grouplove epitomise summer so it’s appropriate that the six piece Californian band is here for the notoriously hot Big Day Out – a staple of Australia’s warmer months. Saturday night was a colder-than-average night for a Sydney January but inside the Metro Theatre it was boiling.
The band entered the stage in a questionable, genre-bending fashion. Drummer Ryan Raber came out first to bang along to A$AP Rocky and Skrillex’s Wild For The Night in a surprisingly effective move that had the crowd right where they wanted them.
Even more surprising was the way they effortlessly segued into the melodic, warm vibes of I’m With You, a track that finally ensured the crowd that they hadn’t wandered into the wrong gig. A few “ah-ah-ah-oh-oh-oh” chants and Cali vibes had taken over Sydney.
It’s often startlingly obvious when a band’s newer material doesn’t match the heights of a first, successful album. The tracks from Grouplove’s second album Spreading Rumours, however, provided some of the best moments of the night.
Shark Attack‘s quasi hip-hop beat was an undeniable winner and the euphoric chants of Bitin’ The Bullet were lifted by a more than obliging crowd.
While Spreading Rumours dazzled with its electronic stylings, the debut Never Trust A Happy Song also went down a treat. First single Itchin’ On A Photograph dropped early on, with lead singer Christian Zucconi leading a mighty sing-along. Lovely Cup also created a bit of hip-shaking and arm-flailing.
Zucconi and vocalist Hannah Hooper ensured the crowd were in a constant state of anarchy, with so much head thrashing from the pair at one point it looked highly likely they would fatally head-butt. In between each song they graciously thanked Sydney for an impressive turn-out
It’s always the greatest joy to watch a band transform their tracks into something more bolstered, dense and exciting on the live stage. Grouplove’s hero was Raber who, with the help of a vivid light show, injected energy into each number.
On the group’s debut, Slow is the most demure of the lot, however the Metro was treated to a muscled up version that came to a valiant finish courtesy of pulsating drums. It was an unexpected but perfect end to the pre-encore set.
Grouplove had at least four sure fire winners that they unleashed one after another. Tongue Tied was a perfect slice of euphoric, disco-inspired pop and garnered one of the best reactions of the night while triple j‘s heavy flogging of Borderlines And Aliens paid off with most of the crowd adopting fluent Japanese for an “ari-ari-ari gato” chant.
Way To Go felt like it could be the perfect ending with its melancholic verses and triumphant chorus but it wasn’t to be. The group’s debut track Colours took the honours and was an instant hit straight off the bat with “yeah I am a man, man, man, man”.
The grateful band stayed around taking numerous bows followed by an attempted stage dive. It was clear they didn’t want it to finish, and neither did the crowd.
Photo by Ashley Mar