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Grouplove at Legends: What you missed

Matt McMahon and Allie Tollaksen | Sunday, November 3, 2013

Just a few days ago, on Halloween, Grouplove performed at Legends. The band is currently touring to support the release of its new album “Spreading Rumours.” Opening for them on a string of dates is the electronic dance act The Knocks. 

Below is a back and forth conversation on the concert between two attendees who took more notes with their phones than pictures:

Allie Tollaksen: So, Matt, what were your thoughts on the opener, The Knocks?

Matt McMahon: Well, stepping into the show as they just got on stage, I don’t know if I was fully prepared mentally – or physically – for what I was about to experience. To a crowd of Halloween costume-clad students, the masked and cloaked duo of Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson rocked out to many EDM stylings of classic tunes. Never has four on the floor been a more apt descriptor for a musical act.

AT: I totally agree. B-Roc and JPatt got a little repetitive for me. The thumping bass and filtered vocals felt a lot like every song you’ve ever heard in a Forever 21. 

MM: Yes, I have gone shopping at Forever 21 and completely understand that sentiment.

AT: I figured you would. But it felt like the group, especially in their costumes, really wanted everyone to know they liked Daft Punk. The Knocks certainly wore that influence on their sleeve, but crossed with something a little more current, like Benny Benassi

MM: Definitely, they combined their Daft Punk infatuation with more recent pop trends from other EDM acts. I’d actually like to go back to what you were saying about their vocals. I don’t think I could make out on any song whether the voices I was hearing were samples, live vocals, or something in between.

AT: Absolutely. I couldn’t tell if their version of M83’s “Midnight City” was a cover or a remix, or if either of the guys were singing at any given point in their set. But, their M83 cover (because it did turn out to be a cover), was pretty good actually. 

MM: Yeah, that was probably the most memorable piece from their performance. What were your impressions of Grouplove’s set? I know you said going in that you weren’t the biggest of fans of their music, but you really like their latest single, “Ways to Go.”

AT: I was pleasantly surprised by their performance. I came into it not having listened to much of their newest album, “Spreading Rumours,” and only knowing a few tracks off of their first full length album, “Never Trust a Happy Song.” When the show started out, I was surprised with the clarity in the sound. Besides fumbling a little bit with the balance of female vocalist Hannah Hooper’s mic, which I couldn’t hear well until about four songs in. 

MM: Yeah, I think there’s something to be said that on a night when a bass heavy outfit performed, the most captivating rhythm section – especially the strength of their drummer – came from a straight indie rock band that can really rock the hell out of a show. They sounded edgier and more compelling not only than their opener, but also their own studio recordings.

AT: I was actually a little disappointed to go home and listen to some of their songs on “Spreading Rumours” only to find out they weren’t as strong as their live versions.

MM: Me too! My favorite song they played live was “Bitin’ the Bullet,” that repeated piano riff is so infectious, but when I went to listen to the album version, after having it stuck in my head for the rest of the night, I was sorely disappointed. They ruined it in the production, and what’s with the whispered chorus? I feel like they try to make their songs too radio-friendly.

AT: Their music does feel radio-friendly, though, even live. Grouplove has a knack for taking every one of their songs and somehow combining a bubblegum pop section with some sort of unexpected element. Whether that be an unexpected minor chord, suspension or switch in keys in the vocals, it makes them more interesting than I had anticipated.

MM: I agree, I made a note that I’m not sure makes sense, but it read, “GL has a peculiar knack for striking out and knocking it out of the park in the course of a single song,” which, I think, echoes your point. Well, I think we’ve milked this show for as much as we could. 

AT: I think we have, too. But overall, I think they did more a job knocking it out of the park than striking out this Halloween.


Contact Matt McMahon at mmcmaho7@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Allie Tollaksen at atollaks@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.