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Grouplove at Hard Rock Cafe L.A. 6/29/16. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13)

These days, with my post-grad 9-5 keeping my schedule firmly regimented, I don’t often find myself going out in the middle of the week. However, after hearing that Grouplove would be playing at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood on a late Tuesday night, I threw all sense of responsibility out the window, and decided to attend.

The moment I arrive, I see press, and a line of dedicated fans rounding the block from the entrance, eagerly awaiting the show. The band’s three year long hiatus left us with much anticipation for their new album, “Big Mess”, dropping this September. This special concert event was organized by was being filmed by VICE and Live Nation as part of a new documentary series titled “Encore”. Group love was the first recording artist to grace the Encore stage.

Fatefully, I’m one of the first people to get into the venue. I blissfully glance around at the music memorabilia until I spot their surprisingly small stage planted in the center of venue. In total Grouplove style, their stage is a small circle, crowded with all of their instruments, and an assortment of table lamps dripping from the ceiling, painted in all of the colors of their new album, (pink, white, yellow, orange, and sky blue). The image gives a striking resemblance to their performance in their “I’m With You” music video. Although entirely out of place, it seems oddly comforting to find their warm, homey, hipster environment dead center of the Hard Rock’s concrete city feel, and red neon glowing signs.

With my good fortune of being one of the first in the building, I hurry to plant my feet in the best possible position to the band members. It’s not long until everyone begins to file in and surround the stage. It becomes crowded quite quickly, and with our shared anticipation of a show to come, I pass the time by listening to whatever pop song the house DJ is spinning, and people watching. Everyone’s fiddling with their phones, taking the obligatory selfie to share on social media, making their peers jealous of not being able to attend such a splendid opportunity. It’s rather amusing.

Grouplove at Hard Rock Cafe L.A. 6/29/16. Setlist.Suddenly, the music stops and the house lights dim. The audience erupts in a collective cheer as the quintet rushes onto the stage. A Ronin camera zooms through the crowd and the cheers get louder. Without hesitation, Grouplove kicks it off with “Beans On Pizza”. They soldier through the first song with a broken amp, and as soon as the song is finished, they stall by noticing and pulling two guy onto the stage, each wearing a “Big” and a “Mess” t-shirt.

They follow-up by noticing other familiar faces in the crowd, whom they know to be dedicated fans. They express their reciprocated love and adoration for us, hence the name of their band. Once the amp is fixed, they continue slowly, playing “Don’t Say Oh Well”, and a Cage The Elephant cover, “Spider Head”- This song makes me fall into a euphoric state as they swap to the acoustic guitar and perfectly execute an electric guitar solo. What appears to be the “last” song was the debut of a new song from their forthcoming album called “Traumatized”. It puts the entire audience in a trance, and when it’s over, while everyone is cheering, Grouplove hurriedly leaves the stage just as quickly as they arrived.

But I’ve been going to concerts long enough to know that the best was yet to come.

The whole crowd begins rhythmically chanting “ENCORE”! Grouplove obeys the summon, returning to play all the songs I’ve been longing to hear. They begin with “Colors”, and every single person, both VIP and commoner, sings the song right back to them in perfect unison. This is followed by deafening cheers, and their next song “Shark Attack”, which gets all of us singing and jumping up and down, carelessly and gently banging into each other. “Tongue Tied” is played with equal participation, and the last song, “Ways To Go”, leaves me and everyone else feeling completely elated.

With what I would presume to be a very successful first episode for VICE and Live Nation’s music series, Grouplove has proven yet again that their alt., indie rock music has a significant infectious pop twist that is irresistible. This concert left me completely overjoyed, and flooded my brain with memories of listening to their past songs, and jamming out in my car before a 9-5 became an obligation. It reminded me why I started listening to them in the first place. If you weren’t lucky enough to catch them at the Hard Rock, never fear as the episode will air on http://livenationtv.com/ and various Youtube outlets. They will also be performing at the Hollywood Palladium in September, and I’m thinking I may just mark that date in my calendar … unless my 9 to 5 get in the way. Finger crossed.

If an image below is pixelated, please click through the “view full size” link for a better view.

Photographer Dislcaimer: Your eyes aren’t deceiving you … some of the pictures are not in focus …. sowwy.