Show Review: Young the Giant w/ Grouplove – People’s March 31

I wasn't able to take a good picture during the show due to technical issues, so here's a person in a duck costume.


At first I was debating whether to write this or not because I thought for sure it was going to be a negative review, and I don’t write negative reviews. I don’t think it is my responsibility to tell anyone what they shouldn’t like. If I don’t like something, I just prefer not to talk about it. But I left this show a little unhappy. In hindsight, I realized a few things somewhat unrelated to actual performance kind of soured me a little bit:

1) Thanks to the somewhat idiotic “no children allowed to see a band if they sell alcohol” rule Des Moines has stubbornly held onto made for a bit of an odd atmosphere. There were three kinds of people there. There were people who were stone sober or maybe had one or two drinks but were still quite functional, thank you very much. There were the people who drank as much as they could in the adjacent bar before the show and between bands that they were weird light switches of drunken behavior where one minute they would be normal human beings and out of nowhere they would be Stanley Kowalski. And there were the people in the fenced off VIP section who got to drink during the show and were thus irredeemable lushes with issues controlling their bodily functions. If you’re sober and a polite human, you are generally cognizant of someone’s nose being at roughly the same altitude as your anus, but alas, once super drunk that stops being a realization you have, I guess.

2) My phone died and since I have an unhealthy reliance on technology and will surely be one of the first people fitted for one of those personal hoverpods they use for the fatties in Wall-E, I was unable to take notes for most of the show. My evolution as a reporter will soon be complete once I get a tiny spiral notepad, a pencil and a fedora with a little flag that says “PRESS” sticking out the top.

Here is the only picture I could take before my phone died. Remember kids, charge your phones whenever you can. Incidentally, Grouplove comes back to Des Moines to headline on May 16. You should go with me.

3) I had entirely too high of expectations for Young the Giant. Unreasonable even. The Who in 1967 couldn’t have hit the expectations I had for them. I am a huge fan of their work. I think they hit every button that a new artist can hit if they want to get on my good side. They have something to say. They are gifted musically and they have a unique sound to them, which I think is due in huge part to the slightly accented vocals of Sameer Gadhia. While the band plays quick and intelligent indie rock, Gadhia’s vocals add another dimension to their sound that is quite unique. So yeah, I was pretty excited to see them. While playing, they hit all their notes and put on a hell of a show, but at times, I feel, they fell into the “let’s add some extended jamming onto the end of this track” stuff that bands do sometimes. Which in reality can be awesome for some, but has just never been my thing. I get a bit antsy. Then, at about the forty-five minute mark they announced their pre-encore last song and I was a little shocked. They came back and played the first song of their self titled debut “Apartment” and then went into their big hit “My Body” and were done after about an hour (I think there might have been another song in between, too, but, well, see point 2). I guess I expected a little more, but it is kind of unfair to expect a new-ish band with only one LP to their name to give me more than an hour, especially at the high energy level they did. Although they did play a song from their days as The Jakes, which was a little unexpected.

4) A young woman standing on one of the elevated VIP areas that People’s has lost her depth perception and smacked her face directly into the top of my head while head banging. It was during Young the Giant’s hit “Cough Syrup”, which if you are unfamiliar with the song, is pretty much a ballad. A ballad with an incredible guitar solo, but not a head banging monster ballad guitar solo. At first her curly hair just kind of tickled my face, but then without warning, BAM, headbutt. She smacked her face onto the top of my head hard enough to jar my neck. I immediately looked up and she hadn’t even flinched. They played that song towards the middle of the set, and I spent the rest of the show half glancing at her face, watching a small hematoma form under her eye and wondered if she would ever notice. She never did. She was very drunk.

So with all those factors, I was prepared to write a negative review of the show. Having now twice slept on it, I realize that my pettiness and general crumudgeon-ness wasn’t fair to the performers. I re-thought the actual performances and realized that I was just being a dickhead. While I still wish they would’ve played a little longer and maybe not devolved into the jam session stuff, Young the Giant and their openers, Grouplove, were pretty amazing.

I have listened to Grouplove a few times, but was kind of unprepared for the show they put on. The harmony between the members was something to behold, and I don’t just mean musically. They actually seem to like each other, a lot, which is rare in this Strokes-ified music era. The chemistry between each member was off the charts. Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi, especially, seem to have a rare kismet where they know exactly where the other will be and how they’ll behave once they get their, and yet it almost never feels rehearsed. They have little fear or stage fright and they perform with somewhat spectacular recklessness. I thought for sure we were going to have a a head smacking incident between performers like they were outfielders chasing down the same fly ball, but no.

The other three members, Sean Gadd, Andrew Wessen and Ryan Rabin all share the spotlight and on occasion lead vocal duties. Their sound is incredibly eclectic going from new age indie electronic with spacey vocals to tried and true southern rock infused folk. They are jacks of all trades and masters of many, including the dance moves of Hooper which seem simultaneously spontaneous and choreographed. It is bands like this that remind me why I always need to see the openers of any show I go to. You just never know.

Young the Giant came on and they were full of fire. Not to short change the band though, because they were all very talented and excited musicians, but this was the Sameer show. His handsome smile and charisma shone through in every movement and gesture. Every movement was a pure and drew a reaction. His superstar status and style were classic frontman, although he still exuded a humbleness, even inviting fans to come hang out with them after the show (we waited for a bit, but left before the arrived, so I’m not sure if they followed through on their invite). He sipped on tea throughout, even squeezing a lemon into his mouth at one point, so I wondered if he was maybe a little fatigued or ill. If that was the case, it was even more impressive because he hit every note, even holding notes in an impressive fashion that never once devolved into the American Idol-esque vibrato show off that so many singers try to do.

The band played with energy and fire, at times showmen, at times workman like. The light show helped a lot, especially during the musical interludes and framed the band in an exciting, if not epilepsy inducing way.

So yeah, my own personal issues aside, the music was excellent and that is the important thing. Although, I do wish I could’ve seen that girl’s reaction when she realized she had a black eye. I kind of hope she has a wild adventure trying to retrace her steps of the night and wonder at what point that occurred and she probably never thought she would find out. I hope she reads this, just for some closure.


1 Comment

  1. […] the charts and into playlists nationwide. Live, their set was very similar to when they opened for Young the Giant a month or so back. It was tight and enjoyable, and to be honest I don’t have a lot to say […]

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