Home / Concert Reviews / Grouplove w/ Portugal. The Man and STRFKR @ The Rave
Monday, Aug. 25, 2014

Grouplove w/ Portugal. The Man and STRFKR @ The Rave

Aug. 24, 2014

grouplove the rave
Photo credit: Sam Shea
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A concert promoted as “The Honda Civic Tour” immediately raises questions about the authenticity and relative coolness of the event. Is this going to be a legitimate musical experience, or just a credibility grab by a corporation trying to up their image? Sunday’s concert at the Rave co-headlined by Grouplove and Portugal. The Man and opener STRFKR thankfully proved to be the former. The ads touting the affordability and lovable quirkiness of the full line of Honda automobiles were kept to a tasteful minimum, clearing the way for more than two hours of catchy, danceable rock music.

Although opener STRFKR is nowhere to be found on the tour website, possibly because of their name, they began the night with a thumping, bass-heavy set ideal for injecting a still-warming-up crowd with much-needed energy. STRFKR leans more toward the electronic side than either of their tour mates, and their hazy vocals and swirling keyboards melded together for an easy way into the music, dominated by an overwhelming low end that often threatened to overpower the rest of the band.

In an overt nod to their progressive and psychedelic influences, Portugal. The Man opened their set with Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2,” moving fluidly into a hyped-up rendition of their single “Purple Yellow Red and Blue,” from their latest album Evil Friends. The Alaskan band clearly knew the rhythm of the tour and kept the music rolling throughout, rarely pausing to break or address the crowd. That’s not to say their hearts weren’t in it, though. The band roared through cuts from their last three albums at high volume, including a tongue-in-cheek cover of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s “Dayman,” the triumphant chorus and slightly trippy lyrics of which fit in perfectly with the group’s set.

Although Portugal. The Man was the more established of the night’s co-headliners, Grouplove’s upbeat, pop-influenced rock made them the better choice to close the night. The slow-burning “I’m With You” built to a climax quickly and set a precedent for a dominant and consistently enjoyable show benefitting from the Rave’s predilection for turning the volume up to metal levels. The bright keyboard riff and heartbreakingly earnest lyrics of “Tongue Tied” elicited a whole-crowd sing along, and the wobbly synths and jubilant chorus of “Ways To Go” stirred the concertgoers into nearly unanimous vertical motion in a testament to the group’s infectious energy.

Most of Grouplove’s songs are a headlong sprint, filled with male/female vocal tradeoffs, shouted choruses and pregnant pauses before crashing guitars and percussion again fill the space with ecstatic sound. The group makes dance-rock that begs for movement, and the members of the band back up their bluster with a stage presence that makes you feel guilty for standing still. Also worth mentioning was a perfectly rapped, power chord-assisted “Drunk In Love” cover that turned Beyoncé’s smoldering R&B hit into a power-pop anthem.

The encore saw the two bands coming together for a raucous, joyous cover of “Baba O’ Riley” that brought together the boisterous energy of Grouplove with the rock ’n’ roll assertiveness of Portugal. The Man. And, say what you will about corporate sponsorship, but the night saw two dynamic and talented bands come together for a double booking that may not have otherwise happened. Feeding off each other’s performances and complementing each other well, Grouplove and Portugal. The Man brought a forceful back-to-back show free of any hints of corporate restrictions.