Photo courtesy of Joe Papeo | irocktheshot.com


When the members of Grouplove first stormed the Terminal 5 stage for their sold-out performance Wednesday night, it was like a Nor’easter had touched down in Hell’s Kitchen.

“The last time we were in this room, a big ass hurricane was coming through,” announced the band’s singer and guitarist Christian Zucconi in reference to Hurricane Sandy. While the city’s sub-zero temps on this particular night may have been less than desirable, Zucconi and his bandmates put the thaw to any lingering frost with a thrilling batch of tunes for the packed house. The Los Angeles five-piece, who are currently touring in support of their 2013 sophomore offering, Spreading Rumors, celebrated the opening night of their two-day stint at the New York City venue like their very lives depended upon delivering their best show ever. The hour + set featured quite a bit of head-banging and bouncing around the stage, with some of the band’s members just narrowly avoiding a head-on collision into one another at certain times. At one point during the concert, Zucconi, with his long, stringy mane of hair and 10XL t-shirt, launched his guitar into the air, like some hooligan reliving the good ol’ days of grunge rock.

Opening with the infectious “I’m With You,” the SoCal band blitzed through a selection of upbeat tunes from Rumors and their 2011 debut, Never Trust a Happy Song, mixing strummed-out beachy pop songs with electronic bass monsters that rattled the dance floor. “New York, can you be as loud as shit right now?!” screamed Zucconi, before fellow singer and blonde beauty, Hannah Hooper yelled, “Let’s get the wolves out!” The crowd went bananas, howling like mad devil dogs, as the band unleashed a head-shattering rocker in “Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten.” Other highlights of the night included the sun-bleached pop hooks of “Itchin’ On a Photograph,” the Pixies-savvy “Raspberry” and the uber sanguine “Tongue Tied,” which had one too many girls trampling out of the restroom doors towards stage-side before the three-minute pop frenzy grinded to a halt.

“This next one is about [guitarist] Andrew’s [Wessen] worst nightmare,” Zucconi disclosed, while the audience whooped in a catty response with the title of the band’s 2014 single, “Shark Attack.” “Bring me down, break it down in the hot, hot desert. This is where I want to be,” sang Hooper and Zucconi during the song’s chorus, as the band mashed skittering electronic beats with cheerful guitar melodies. While the track was definitely one the more impressive feats from Grouplove that night, there was certainly no shortage of excitement, even during their softest moments. Halfway through their set, Zucconi grabbed an acoustic guitar and began to recite the opening lines from Beyoncé’s, “Drunk in Love,” something that seemed to catch the fans by surprise, as they immediately shrieked with approval. “Hold on, I need to start this over,” laughed Zucconi, as he jumped into a hair-raising rendition of the song. Hooper soon joined in, taking on the more soulful intonations, while Zucconi wailed into the microphone like a young diva at heart.

The opening and supporting acts were just as engaging in the forms of the young and bubbly Alex Winston and the bewitching MS MR respectively. Winston, a New York native, warmed up the crowd with a handful of captivating pop-rock tracks from her latest album, King Con, which blended cozy, heartfelt tales of love and loss with breezy bits of electronic swoosh. Draped in gypsy-looking garb, Winston crouched down at center stage and wept her sweet trill into the microphone while her backing band dished out tightly-wound pop gushers that hit close to home. Her vocals quavered at times like Kate Bush, while her spirit fluttered around the stage like a bird uncaged. Although the opener, Winston is somebody who’s got future headlining potential written all over her. Following her performance were fellow New Yorkers MS MR, whose dreamy, pop-crammed set evoked the dark-wave shudder of Siouxsie and the Banshees, the dance-punk oomph of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and even the glammed-up shock pop of Lady Gaga at times.

Led by the sultry Lizzy Plapinger, the quartet wasted no time in magnetizing the crowd with a loud, emphatic performance that dangled on the verge of collapse just from sheer intensity. Plapinger, with her lanky figure, whipped herself into a tizzy from the get-go, executing one high-kick after the next as if mentored by David Lee Roth himself. She looked marvelous in her attack, sporting a mess of fiery-red hair and a mink coat that cut off just above the beltline. Her band, clad in leather jackets and looking quite broodish themselves, slung out a heap of spidery guitar notes, smeared keyboard melodies and explosive drum beats that felt like a rock-hard fist to the chest. The group, who’s been out on the road with Grouplove in support of their 2013 debut, Secondhand Rapture, tackled much of the album’s twelve tracks with dazzling performances of “Fantasy,” “Hurricane” and a cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I Wanna Know.” Once the concert had ended, it was easy to see why Grouplove had invited both openers to accompany them on tour. Although slightly varied in sound, all three acts demanded quite an abundance of energy from not only themselves, but the crowd as well.

Setlist for Grouplove at Termianl 5 | 3/26/14

I’m With You
Itchin’ on a Photograph
School Boy
Lovely Cup
Naked Kids
Shark Attack
Raspberry
Spun
Gold Coast
Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten
Tongue Tied
Drunk in Love (Beyoncé cover)
Bitin’ the Bullet
Slow

Encore

Borderlines And Aliens
Ways To Go
Colours