Christian Zucconi is Grouplove’s main vocalist and guitarist, as well as a New York City native. Though he is attached to his hometown music scene, Zucconi had to acknowledge the high energy of both the group and the crowd on Friday night at the Hollywood Palladium.
“Tonight, L.A. has it over New York,” Zucconi said.
The show opened with the L.A.-based band MUNA, a trio that warmed up the crowd with features from their debut release, The Loudspeaker EP. Their performance fused synthpop with the familiar, pop-rock flair of the headliner. The funky soft-rock set teased the crowd with catchy, feel-good vibes — a taste of what Grouplove fans were looking forward to. MUNA left fans excited for what would come next.
As soon as the synth riff of Grouplove’s “I’m With You” began to fade in, the crowd stirred eagerly with it. A teal backlight gradually filled the stage, and the members entered and positioned themselves at their instruments. As the drums picked up and the lights revealed his face, Zucconi flashed fellow lead vocalist Hannah Hooper a small smile and began to sing. The crowd immediately cheered louder, clapping and singing along.
The show’s overarching atmosphere was happy and loving. For a full floor and balcony venue, the concert felt uniquely intimate. After “I’m With You,” the group performed an upbeat rendition of “Good Morning” from their newest album Big Mess, followed later by the high-charting single “Tongue Tied.”
The audience jumped, danced and echoed the lyrics proudly. The stage glowed along to the beat of the song, with lights swaying with the audience in color pairs.
Pulsating through orange, blue, red and green, the giant collage-style hands hanging in the background lit up to the rhythm of the tracks. Smiles were abounding, and there was a sense of carefree togetherness. Everybody in the Palladium felt community in the melodies.
The set list struck a balance between new and old hits; features from Big Mess were paired in succession with classics like “Shark Attack” and “Borderlines and Aliens.” Both donning edgy, white-lace pieces, Zucconi and Hooper radiated an irresistible energy. They sang and danced for the audience and for each other. The feel-good rhythm of the songs was reflected in their movements and that of their fans. The crowd jumped, nodded and grooved along with them.
Just before their last few songs, the lights suddenly began to pulse to a guitar lick, first in alternating colors and then gaining speed into full white. Surprising the audience with “Sabotage,” a cover of the Beastie Boys classic, the group vigorously belted the verses of the rap-rock song. The response was visceral and sharp as some fans began to dance and bounce quickly to the rhythm of the guitar. Ryan Rabin on drums banged out the rest of the song for the impassioned crowd.
After performing the track, the band regrouped for one of the more subdued songs on their new album, “Enlighten Me.” With an emphatic keyboard and slow guitar, Zucconi sings broodingly, “Won’t you enlighten me? / Won’t you just set me free?”
The audience gradually put their hands in the air, swaying in unison to the tempo of the ballad. Friends hugged and couples kissed — the song ended and left the crowd cheering with a renewed sense of intimacy.
Following a heartfelt rendition of the crowd-favorite “Ways To Go,” fans were left uplifted and optimistic though they knew the show was almost over. As the group prepared for their last song of the night, Zucconi sat down with his guitar and thanked the crowd.
“Everything can be so overwhelming, so thank you,” he said.
He spoke to the unifying power of music, of life and of the fans. The band and the fans mutually understood the “big mess” life could be. Yet by the end of the show, in that moment, they had their songs and they had each other. The crowd experienced a loving, implicit embrace through music that night. Zucconi captivated the entire venue, and the fans hung onto every word he said Without a doubt, the Palladium felt the love of the group.
“This is a crazy f-cking world,” Zucconi said from behind his guitar.
See more photos from the concert here.