OAKLAND — The last time indie pop band Grouplove played the Fox Theater, vocalists Hannah Hooper, Christian Zucconi and co. were opening for Florence and the Machine in 2010. Hooper, a Bay Area native, paused Thursday night to reminisce about the experience. Judging by the fans’ reaction, very few were around back then, when Grouplove was a fledgling band with little fanfare and everything to prove.
Not Thursday, when the band headlined a packed Fox with raucous, happily sloppy pop tunes off its third album, the recently released Big Mess. The quintet, which included guitarist Andrew Wessen, drummer Ryan Rabin and bassist Daniel Gleason (a relatively new member of the band), twirled, danced and kicked through a 75-minute set of earlier material like “Tongue Tied” and “Colours,” as well as new songs like intensely catchy “Welcome To Your Life.”
The show was opened by Los Angeles pop and R&B trio MUNA and Toronto noise pop band Dilly Dally. The latter is fronted by pig-tailed screamer Katie Monks, whose gravelly delivery created an immediate comparison to Courtney Love. MUNA ran through a handful of already released songs and a new track from their forthcoming full-length debut. As coherent, musically competent and intelligent as singer Katie Gavin and guitarists Naomi McPherson and Josette Maskin appear on record, they’re even stronger on stage.
The three were complemented with a drummer and bassist and performed a funky, too-short set that showed they will soon be headlining their own larger shows soon. Frontwoman Gavin, whose lyrics sometimes deal with battling insecurity, never hid behind a microphone.
Instead, she funneled attention to herself and her band mates with dancing and gesticulations that made even those across the room believe the performance was a one-on-one communication.
— Roman Gokhman
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