For the most part, co-headlining shows are pretty great. You get to see two bands guaranteed to be good for a nice low price, while also benefitting from the groups playing off each other’s energy. Plus, if there’s an opener, they have usually made the cut of approval from both bigger bands. This can add up to one hell of a show, and Friday night at Terminal 5 was just that (minus the opener).
Grouplove took the stage first, which was slightly surprising. While it made sense later on, I did expect them to close the show with a bang. I based that notion on the fact that not only are their songs are easier to sing along with, but their sound is generally just bigger. They opened with “Lovely Cup,” a huge stomper, and stuck to the best songs from their first EP and last year’s excellent Never Trust a Happy Song. The crowd was won over easily, but that wasn’t exactly dumb luck. Grouplove throws off a vibe that’s impossible not to fall in love with, and the energy they put off between each other is enough to sway the coldest hearts. What I didn’t realize it that each band member truly contributes to the experience. Though Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi seem to lead, everybody else gets a turn to sing and take control for a few minutes, which truly earns the band their namesake.
Of course the closer was “Colours,” the band’s soon-to-be ubiquitous staple, but it came after a nice short take on “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” The song ended up sounding more like a Grouplove single than one of Whitney Houston’s signature songs, but the tribute was nonetheless appropriate and sincere. That description goes a long way toward describing Grouplove as a whole, and if the world doesn’t end in December, I don’t expect this band ever will. They are that good.
Next up was the east coast’s Young the Giant, which I expected led to them to truly headlining the night over the westerners who went on beforehand. An hour and a half later I realized that geography was only one factor in the decision. Young the Giant is currently road-testing new material, gauging the audience’s reactions to new tunes and probably making mental notes on when things start to drag. I don’t think they counted on everybody being wasted, though. Well, everyone except me.
I saw YtG a little over a year ago in Philadelphia’s North Star Bar, and there’s no doubt the group was more impacting there than on Friday. It’s not so much the lack of intimacy at Terminal 5, but more the succinctness with which they played. The band was on for maybe 45 minutes at most and played songs that were already on their way to being set staples. The Terminal 5 show saw all those songs played, as well as a whole bunch extra. There had to have been at least 3 or 4 brand new songs, which would have been a cool thing if they had built the set around them. Instead, the band soldiered through what seemed like their debut album (actually ten of twelve) plus half of their next venture. Unless they were your favorite band, it was all just too much. The slowly building Gorillaz cover didn’t help anything either.
I’d generally say that if a band is going to showcase new material, they should just do it. Open with a previous hit, then have the encore be other well known songs. Now, all of this complaining isn’t to say that YtG played poorly. In fact, they were dead on for the whole show and are still very much recommended in my book. Just don’t see them when they are testing out new songs, especially if they’re mostly ballads and the talkative crowd has become too drunk to care.