With Grouplove and Portugal. The Man headlining this years Honda Civic Tour, the label-mates look to set an indie edge to the yearly touring show that most recently saw Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson at the helm. Between Grouplove and Portugal. The Man they share seven top 20 US Alternative tracks and nine full length albums. With plenty of experience in the limelight and both bands notorious for their live presence, any of the tours dates are sure to be a show that will be remembered for years to come.
In further unifying the bands, just before the tour officially kicked off, we premiered the Portugal. The Man remix of Grouplove's "Shark Attack" (listen here).
Below you will find a review of the epic Los Angeles show at The Greek Theater followed by an insightful interview with Grouplove's female lead, Hannah Hooper.
EARMILK REVIEW: HONDA CIVIC TOUR – THE GREEK THEATER
Showing up slightly late to the early Los Angeles show, the venue was still filling up after Tokyo Police Club left the stage. With Portugal. The Man following them up and their success with their most recent Los Angeles recorded album Evil Friends, it was only a matter of time before the remainder of the audience would find their way into their seats in what eventually would be an overflowing crowd. While longtime Portugal. The Man fans seemed somewhat scarce, the audience consisted of newcomers to the Portlanders sound, eager to sing along to their latest two records that were released by through Atlantic.
By the time that their set started, the sun was well on its way out for the night. Kicking off with a cover that transitioned into one of their more notorious songs off of Evil Friends, Portugal. The Man showcased their crowd pleasing style early on. Venturing into jam sessions in between their music, John Gourley and gang were on top of the show throughout, performing a relaxed set, backtracked by their original psychedelic art that morphed behind the act.
Playing to their crowd, they mainly stuck to the 23 songs of their most recent two albums, venturing back to what sounded like Church Mouth for an interlude/alternative take and The Satanic Satanist for “The Sun” and "People Say". Mid-way through the set there was also a marvelous Oasis cover that came completely natural to the group, serving as one of the many highlights of the night. In all, they kept the crowd at bay, moving side to side in a trance-like state as they softly sung along.
In-between Portugal. The Man’s break and Grouplove taking the stage, it seemed as though the crowd was ready to let it all out at the open venue. Going from what seemed to be a full house to an overflowing crowd the Angelenos were eagerly awaiting the performance from the LA natives Grouplove.
By the time Grouplove took the stage their impending energetic show had already carried over to the crowd, where concertgoers knew what kind of show was in store. Rolling into position with A$AP Rocky blasting through the speakers, by the time the group kicked off their set with “I’m With You” the dance party was well under way. Grouplove swiftly moved through their hits, pausing to interact with the crowd when everyone was in need of a breath of fresh air.
Around mid-set the crowd was treated to a Beyonce cover, where Hannah and Christian shared their always strong stage presence, playing off of each other at times to make for a heartwarming effect. Later in the set Hannah dedicated a song to Robin Williams, which tugged at the emotions of many. Soon thereafter the group navigated back into their happy-go-lucky sound. At the end of the night, Grouplove and Portugal. The Man took the stage together to perform a fun rendition of "Teenage Wasteland", ending the early night on an inspirational note.
In all, the night was filled with a mix of psychedelics effects, energy and always strong musicianship. With Portugal. The Man taking the cake in terms of a stellar light show that at one point had digital clouds waving over the audience, Grouplove's response from the concert goers was astounding. So, if you have a chance to catch the Honda Civic Tour through its run, or even one of the groups independently, be sure to do so for a worthwhile event.
EARMILK INTERVIEW: HANNAH HOOPER OF GROUPLOVE
EARMILK: How are you doing today?
Hannah Hooper: Good, I've got a day off. I'm pretty pumped.
EM: Is it any different to play live in front of the home base LA crowd?
HH: Yeah, it is different. I would say people are more fluent with our whole album, rather than just the singles. Besides, it is always nice playing home. It is a mix between nerve wrecking and welcoming. I just can't believe we are playing The Greek, it is a dream come true.
EM: In between your seemingly never-ending schedule, what do you do with your time off?
HH: On tour I pretty much do nothing *Laughs*. Currently, I am very behind on the life of the television series. Everyone is always talking about the newest ones, and currently Christian and I are laying in bed watching Breaking Bad. So, I am going to watch like 5 episodes of Breaking Bad today.
Actually, Christian just wrote a song for this new show that is coming out called BoJack, which Aaron Paul was one of the writers for. So, it is kind of cool getting to see Aaron Paul do his thing in the show and get to know him a little bit because we are about to go meet him.
EM: Is it a Grouplove song or just a Christian song?
HH: It's a Christian song, but I think that Grouplove is going to play it at the BoJack party. So, that's how a lot of songs happen.
EM: Of the many venues around the world that you have preformed at, what would you say was your favorite and why?
HH: Oh, that's so tough. So many elements have to do with how the show goes, which is out of your hands. We just did our production rehearsal at probably one of my favorite venues in the world, the Moore Theater in Seattle. There is just so much epic history there. Nirvana played there and Pearl Jam played there. You can really feel it when you are in there. Oh, and it has a great coffee shop next door. It doesn't take a lot. Playing The Wiltern was also an unbelievable experience. On this tour we will be playing Red Rocks, which is insane. That's just another place that I can't believe we are playing, it's kind of overwhelming.
EM: Having recently attended your tour with MS MR, can frequent Grouplove concert attendees expect anything different from this tour?
HH: Yeah, we are playing some deep cuts, or some song off of our album Spreading Rumours that we haven't played yet, songs that we haven't really put into a festival set or our last tour. We just hadn't had time to polish them up in a way. We also have some secret covers that may come out of the woodworks. Because this is the Honda Civic tour, we have a whole new video wall addition that we have never had that is just for visual stuff. Also, a whole new lighting set up that we were all really involved in building together. I also have some weird onesies that are coming out. We love to change it up and keep our show lively and passionate, so whenever we can add something we will. Each setlist every night will be different. If someone is coming to more than one show they won't be disappointed.
EM: Knowing that your favorite song to play live seems to change from time to time, what is your currently favorite live song?
HH: We just started playing "Didn't Have To Go", which is on Spreading Rumours and that's an intensely passionate song. Where we are normally gung-ho crazy, I feel like there is an energy–but maybe it is just that it is a new song to play live, so it is really fun to play.
Normally I have been saying that "Borderlines and Aliens" is my favorite live song because I can really let go during that song. It's fun to lose yourself in front of the audience and really let go to a place that is unexplainable, almost dangerous. I just love that feeling. It's not a part of meet that is revealed in conversation. It kind of surprises me a little, that I have that animal inside. Some people might get that kind of high when they are working out or something. It's really liberating.
EM: Having already preformed at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Firefly and Coachella this year how have the many festivals treated you?
HH: It's been psychedelic. We just played Outside Lands and just like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, I couldn't see where the crowd ended. The only word that I could think of to describe it was political for some reason. When you see photos of John F. Kennedy in DC, or the march on Washington. In those kinds of moments I want to give an epic, unforgettable speech. All I can normally say is 'make art and smoke weed together'. The festivals have just been mind-boggling.
EM: Have there been any festival moments that you won't forget?
HH: We just played Splendor in the Grass in Australia–the radio in Australia is different so they don't just play one single on your album but Triple J, which is an amazing radio station, plays your whole album so people really get to know all your songs–and I would say that there were 80,000 people or something at our stage when we played. It was our first time ever playing at night at a festival, which was like a different game. I will just never forget everyone having lighters up and singing along. I had my ambient mics up super loud and my in-ears and all I could hear was the audience singing every word to every song for our whole set. People were crowd surfing and there was even a mosh pit during "Shark Attack". I was just so present during that whole show. We didn't have anything go wrong on stage, which really helps you stay present and in the moment. So, that was just such an incredible live show that is unforgettable for me.
EM: With The Honda Civic tour having just kicked off, do you have a favorite song from Portugal. The Man?
HH: They have so many albums, I think 10 including EPs and stuff, but I actually don't. I feel like they unveil so many new songs every night. I genuinely love John's voice so whatever he brings… They did this cool–I don’t know if I should give this away–Pink Floyd song mash-up with one of their songs to open up their set last night and it was pretty epic–something to look forward to if they do it again. We are about to write our third album, they have so much more material to pull from. That is something that is so inspiring for us because once you have that kind of catalog you can put on such a crazy show every night with such a different setlist.
EM: Of all of Christian’s standout hair coloring, which color have you liked best over the years?
HH: I actually like when he is bleach blonde. I dye his hair and I keep it going. Whenever I have a day off it is a fun time to change it up. I always like the first few weeks right when we dye it because the color is the most vibrant and I think he likes it when it starts fading. But yeah, I actually like when he is bleach blonde, when he looks like a California surfer dude.
EM: What would you say is the one moment of 2014 that will stick with you most?
HH: We just lost Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman this year. With all the incredible things the band is doing, when we lose these amazing artists it just helps you realize how special it is to be an artist. How, at the end of the day, artists have to balance a certain sadness that people don't understand because to give yourself up to a certain level; there is a lot of pain underneath it all. I think it is just important to be present and to realized just how blessed we are to be in this place. I am learning it's really special where we are at and to treasure it. I just can't change the channel without seeing something about Robin Williams. He is from San Francisco and I actually knew his son really well, so it is a sad day.
Hannah Hooper and John Gourley came together to create the Honda Civic Tour's unique promo art. You can purchase a signed copy from the link below. As a note BoJack Horseman is an animated Netflix original series to air on August 22nd. Lastly, the remaining dates of the tour are featured below.
8/19 Salt Lake City, UT — Red Butte
8/21 Morrison, CO — Red Rocks
8/22 Council Bluffs, IA — Harrah’s
8/24 Milwaukee, WI — Eagles Ballroom
8/27 Des Moines, IA — Simon Estes
8/29 Kansas City, MO — Crossroads
8/30 Dallas, TX — South Side Ballroom
9/2 Atlanta, GA — Masquerade
9/3 Charlotte, NC — Uptown Theatre
9/5 Cincinnati, OH — Horseshoe Casino
9/10 Columbus, OH — LC Pavilion
9/12 Washington, DC — Merriweather Post Pavilion
9/14 Boston, MA — Bank of America Pavilion
9/16 New York, NY — Rumsey Playfield, Central Park