Grouplove @ The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne, Tuesday February 13, 2018
Words | Nicholas Kennedy
The first multi-day festival I ever went to was Falls Festival 2011 – a stupid, adolescent, emotional experience shared with a group of people, half of whom I haven’t spoken to in years. It was a different time, it was different music, and on the first day I saw Grouplove.
They wrote songs for the rapturously emotional youth that grew up on a diet of Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse, and back then, choruses were huge: you screamed them until you couldn’t speak the next day. Colours, Itchin’ on a Photograph, Tongue Tied – all intensely relatable songs for millennials who still lived in the small worlds of a post-high school daze. These songs were about you, your friends, your crush, your ex.
It was weird then to be standing in the Croxton Bandroom, miles away and years later, watching Grouplove once more howl their way through the chorus of Itchin’ on a Photograph. But the years are felt, and that’s the problem: from Tongue Tied to Bad Mess, they’re at a constant fever pitch. Every chorus was massive, every verse a singalong, and drumkits were jumped off with an alarming regularity. They seemed like a band stuck out of time – chasing a high that they might’ve had on that main stage backdropped by the gorgeous Marion Bay seven years ago.
It’s exhausting – I’m not the spritely 18-year-old I once was, Grouplove! I got bills to pay! I can’t keep tumbling down the twee-hippy hill with you!
But at least it’s exhausting for a reason. The band performed these songs with an energised nostalgia, reaching out to the crowd with a recognition of how similar moments, separated by time, feel. Maybe they’re thinking about what 2011 felt like, too? Maybe they never wanted to change like the Vampire Weekends or the Arcade Fires – to ditch the flower crowns and the dyed hair?
As much as Grouplove’s set felt like a mash of 2010’s youth and every chorus ever written around 2009, I felt strangely grateful for the nostalgia. Memories can be found in the strangest of places – like the smell of a house or the view out a window – and it seems I left a small number of mine in some goddamn Grouplove songs.