THE HEAD & THE HEART
The Factory Theatre, Sydney 03/01/12
While Seattle’s The Head & The Heart boasted six members and three vocals, their occasional explosions of exciting noise only served to illustrate just how pedestrian most of the first-half of their performance was. Thankfully, as their indie-folk set continued, the thrills became far more frequent and, by the time they were finished, they had certainly done a lot to impress – not least with the awesome (yet frustratingly underutilised) howl of Charity Rose Thielen, who had quite the appealing stage presence throughout on vocals, hand-claps and violin.
Grouplove arrived on stage and immediately set about working a sold-out room into a frenzy with their infectious energy. 'Fun' is a hard thing to achieve in music without coming across as insincere or just plain annoying, but the Californian quintet are fun with a capital F-U-N and there is nothing remotely contrived about them. When Christian Zucconi got the crowd to join in with some wolf-like howling before Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten, when vocalist Hannah Hooper bopped around delightfully and when Englishman Sean Gadd grooved on the bass and stalked the stage while singing the excellent Chloe, there wasn't even a hint of histrionics. Rather, this was five people having a bloody good time and wanting nothing more than for the crowd to feed off their bonhomie.
And then there's the tunes. Like a merrier Modest Mouse and making the noise of a plethora of Polyphonic Sprees, Grouplove have crafted a fine collection of singalong anthems. So much so that Lovely Cup was confidently chucked away early. Soon after, the summer fun of Naked Kids (be careful when you Google that) prompted the first of many raucous singalongs. After Hopper created some live art with a texter and some backlit perspex during the rocky Slow, the encore, of course, consisted of Tongue Tied before the evening ended with the epic indie of Colours.
Many bands could learn a lot from Grouplove; they deliver a wonderfully feel-good vibe while having the songs to back it up and an undeniable sense of believability to their performance. The year may only have been three days old but, as punters headed for the exit smiling from ear to ear, they did so in the knowledge that they would see few better gigs in 2012.
Review by Bobby Townsend. The review first appeared in Sydney's Drum Media.