Review: Grouplove w/ Reptar at Wooly’s 5/16

Wooly’s green room as decorated by Grouplove’s Sean Gadd (from Grouplove’s Facebook page)


Oh, Des Moines, we need to chat. I am very kind to you. I stick up for you in the face of unbridled national ignorance towards our arts scene and unfair stereotyping of our citizens. I go to bat time and time again to try and show the world just how awesome we are as a city. But here is the deal. If you are at a concert or in a bar, or in public, or just at home, and you hear Fugazi’s “Waiting Room”, you sing a long. No exceptions. Hell, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and say you don’t even have to know all the words, you just have to be on point to yell “I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait”. When it came on in between bands, and I was the only person who yelled that part, and everyone looked at me like I was an idiot, I wasn’t embarrassed for me, I was embarrassed for you. Most major cities have this down (I would assume), so let’s all get on the same page here. Also, “Come Together” has two verses before it gets to the first chorus. Stop trying to stick an extra chorus in there. It ain’t there. But hey, thanks for coming out to such a good concert. Early shows can be a bitch, but a lot of you showed up, so I’m proud of you Des Moines. We need to support a place like Wooly’s. Seriously though, lets get our shit together. Glad we could talk.

Oh, right, the concert. It was awesome. I drank a little too much. I let my friend Ann use me for a stepladder at one point. I tried to play wing-man for a guy, and the girl immediately bolted. Um, what else happened. Oh, part of the group I was with ended up hanging out with both bands at Beechwood Lounge, and Reptar even crashed on his couch and floor and such, so that’s kind of cool.

I wanted to take notes and actually do a full on report on the show, but about the third song into Athens, GA’s Reptar set, I just put the app away and had fun. I kind of just got engulfed by the energy of the crowd and the joy of watching the youngsters from Reptar (I’m honestly not sure how old they are, but they were quite the babyfaced band. But hell, everyone at this point looks like children to me. I’m really not very far from screaming at everyone to get off my lawn).

Reptar plays a high energy set that really seems to connect with a lot of people. Normally for shows like this, especially early shows in Des Moines, the crowd just isn’t there for the opener. Unfortunately, this is maybe the biggest issue facing Des Moines right now. In a normal city, you could start a show at 630, have a local opener (there are just a shitload of local bands that could’ve been a great opener for this show) to maybe give them a minor bit of exposure and something top put on a resume. Have Reptar on at 8, Grouplove on at 9 and we’re home by 10:30pm (or in my case, Zombie Burger)(Oh incidentally, if the waitress I had on the patio at Zombie Burger Wednesday night happens to be reading this, thanks for sharing the pictures of your kid with me, she was cute. But sincerest, most heartfelt apologies on the small tip. I woke up in a cold sweat realizing I only tipped like 12% when I meant to tip like 20%. I drank away my math skills, please accept my apologies and know I will make it up to you next time). But according to law, a show like this has to be done by nine o’clock, because that’s when minors start drinking. I remember when I was 19 or 20 and I would steal Busch Light from my dad (sorry, dad), I always waited until it hit 9pm, exactly. I would never, say drink a bunch in the middle of the afternoon and then go listen to music and try and get more beer there. Nope. Not once.

Anyway, back to Reptar. They are going to be huge. They have a dance pop sound that is catchy and familiar. Think Vampire Weekend meets MGMT, only they also got a hold of one of those microphones that broadcasts your voice through the AM radio dial and they use it from time to time. It is fun, it is enjoyable, and while it seems a little silly, it is a good kind of silly. Where you just listen and smile. I’m glad I got to see them now, because I feel like the next time they come through Iowa, they’ll play a much bigger stage.

Grouplove, however, are only a beat or two away from playing a much bigger stage. Their music is so universally easy to love, that they are rocketing up 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 that doesn’t kind of echo my previous review, so boom, a cut and pasting we go:

The harmony between the members was something to behold, and I don’t just mean musically. They actually seem to like each other, like 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.

One quick fresh take though, is I really like the live performance of the song “Slow”. Each member seems to have moments where they take center stage, like the always enjoyable Andrew Gadd taking over lead for maybe my favorite Grouplove song, “Chloe”. But when Hannah Hooper takes over for “Slow” the whole room seems to shift slightly. She commands the room with that song and her pitch and movements and key work are all astonishing. On the album, the song come across as the typical change of pace track, but live, it becomes an event. It is one of those songs that I bet is just insane outside, in a rainstorm or just something when you need a kick in the ass or a reminder of what really good live performances can give you.

So, all in all this show was great. Wooly’s is great. Des Moines, you get a B+. Thanks for showing up and being awesome. Thanks for showing up early for Reptar. Now homework, get to it:


1 Comment

  1. You’re letting us off easy. I think we should all have to sing it AND do bust at least two measures worth of Guy Picciotto dance moves, per 0:45 or so in this video:

    Bonus points for those who can accurately play the air drum parts . . .

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