With the aroma of grass filling the air, Coachella-inspired girls and San Diego’s infamous ‘Bro’ boys flocked to the Cricket Amphitheater on Sunday for 91x’s annual X-fest. (To clarify, when I say grass, I am referring to marijuana and when I say filled, I mean the smell was so pertinent that everyone in the amphitheater was contact high half-way through the concert – even the police.) This yearly show is seen as the kick-off to summertime, and 2012 proved no different. With seven of the ten acts calling Southern California home, it was time for Summer in So-Cal to commence.
GROUPLOVE, an Alternative-Pop group from LA, who gained notoriety for their song “Tongue Tied” when it was featured in an iPod commercial last year, brought the festival to life. They kicked off their set with “Lovely Cup,” demonstrating their zeal as artists. On stage, GROUPLOVE is not a five-member band; they are a unit, that is able to vibe off one another and makes the audience put on their dancing shoes. With “Itchin’ On a Photograph,” their second tune, the band started clapping with the hopes to engage the audience; however, it soon became apparent that this engagement was to hide the lead singer’s lack of vocal strength and his failure to carry the tune’s high pitched, lengthy notes. “Naked Kids,” a track about summertime and car rides to the beach, brought the pop band back to its acoustic roots – let’s face it, the truth is that it is impossible to have a song about summer without an acoustic guitar. The fourth song GROUPLOVE performed “Spun,” brought back memories of my experience at the Wombat’s concert; it was an upbeat, dance track with great vocal backing from Hannah Hooper, the band’s one female member.
Half way through their performance, GROUPLOVE switched everything up with “Slow.” Dominantly sung by Hannah Hooper, “Slow,” adds in synthesizers and guitar distortions, which had been absent from the band’s first four songs. Ending with intense synthesizers provides audience members an outer-space experience filled with high-pitched sounds that confuse the mind. “Tongue Tied,” the song that made the group famous, gets everyone in the crowd dancing – yes, even the ‘Bros’ were nodding along. GROUPLOVE showed their talent as a band throughout their time on the stage, but they took their performance to the next level with a cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” In four simple words: the crowd went crazy. Even though the singers’ vocals were raspy and lacked the strength of Whitney’s vocal range, the band’s version of the 1980s classic showcased their ability to reinvent a music industry staple.
In GROUPLOVE’s eight-song set, they proved to the festival attendees that they were good enough to share the stage with bands, such as Jane’s Addiction and Garbage. Their high energy combined with awkward dance moves, and a sense of contentment with one another, instilled in my mind that this is a band to watch; they will without a doubt be together, making music that resonates in the world of popular music for years to come.