Grouplove comes full circle with cozy show at El Cid

Grouplove at El Cid (Photo by Lexi Bonin)
Grouplove at El Cid (Photo by Lexi Bonin)

In May 2010, a quintet who’d been going by the Google-defying name GROUP played their first public show, a loose affair at El Cid in Silver Lake. It was attended by about 50 people — around 40 of them representatives of record labels whose appetites has been whetted by having heard the single “Colours” on Neon Gold a couple of months earlier. Expectations were high, as GROUP had already taken meetings with labels before they ever set foot onstage.

On Wednesday night, 2,319 days after that maiden voyage, the band you now know as Grouplove returned for old time’s sake to El Cid — on this night populated by more diehards that record executives. They regaled a packed room with songs from their third album, “Big Mess,” showered fans with thank-yous and shared a little history.

||| Photos by Lexi Bonin

“This is crazy because six years ago we played our first show here,” Hannah Hooper said, “and I wore a mask because I was so scared to perform in front of people.”

They are the opposite of shy now. On Wednesday, before the predictable sing-alongs to “Tongue Tied” and “Itching on a Photograph,” before the ice-cream screams to “Shark Attack,” before somebody gifted Hooper with a fan-made T-shirt that said “The Grouplovers,” before their high-pitched optimism planted perma-smiles on the faces of the date-night crowd, the quintet established that this would be a rock show, or at least as ferocious a rock show as a band known as “indie-pop” can play.

Grouplove — Hooper and Christian Zucconi at the front, backed by drummer Ryan Rabin, guitarist Andrew Wessen and bassist Daniel Gleason — led the show with “Traumatized,” a good ol’ pop-punk song that leans toward the riffier side of “Big Mess.” The foot-tapper “Do You Love Someone” followed, highlighting the vocal chemistry between Zucconi and Hooper, and the new “Heart of Mine.” Then the crowd (who received a copy of the album with their show tickets) got into the act to raise their voices to the older, familiar songs.

“Standing in the Sun,” one of seven songs Grouplove played from the new album, was another highlight — it’s an indie-pop power ballad (we just invented that) that finds a spark in, of all things, Wessen’s nifty guitar solo in the bridge. It paired nicely with the noodling riffs of 2013’s “Borderlines and Aliens,” which followed. It turned into a hot mess then with the band’s cover the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” thrashy and chaotic with hair flying, until Zucconi held his guitar high over his head … and dropped it, face-first, with a boom. It wasn’t quite Townshendian (we invented that too), but it was an exclamation point.

Order resumed, the catchy but formulaic current single “Welcome to Your Life,” closed out the main set, leaving fans to chant the band’s name until the quintet returned for an encore. It began with one of “Big Mess’s” highlights, the anthemic “Enlighten Me;” only rather than replicate the album version, Zucconi performed it solo, beautifully, with guitar. That led into 2013’s “Ways to Go,” a finally the big finale — “the song that started it all,” Hooper said — “Colours.”

But not before Wessen took a moment to express the quintet’s heartfelt appreciation: “I get to wake up every morning excited about what I do,” he said, “and it’s all because of the people in this room.”

||| Live: Grouplove play the Palladium on Oct. 7.

Setlist: Traumatized, Do You Love Someone, Heart of Mine, Itching on a Photograph, Shark Attack, Tongue Tied, Spinning, Let Me In, Standing in the Sun, Borderlines and Aliens, Sabotage, Welcome to Your Life. Encore: Enlighten Me, Ways to Go, Colours