Remember December? Grouplove's Long-Overdue Return to Portland

Vortex Music Magazine

The Los Angeles pop rockers were set to share the Crystal stage with Wild Ones for 94.7 FM KNRK's December to Remember series, but a delay got in the way. Now, Grouplove finally made their winter festival appearance on a warm spring day.

Grouplove at the Crystal Ballroom on April 21—click to see more photos by Jordan SleethGrouplove at the Crystal Ballroom on April 21—click to see more photos by Jordan Sleeth2016 was a tough year. But as the mess came to an end, December to Remember promised to be our saving grace. It was one last hope to lead us into a better year. Unfortunately, even 94.7 FM KNRK's beloved winter festivities couldn’t escape the curse.

Record snow and ice storms made their mark on the month, causing some shows to be canceled and others to draw smaller crowds as many fans could not make it through the weather to attend. Some shows were called off or postponed due to an illness of one of the performers—Grouplove was such a casualty.

With only a week to go before their sold-out set on December 7, the Los Angeles band had to make the sad announcement that, due to strict doctor’s orders regarding leading lady Hannah Hooper’s vocal cords, all shows for the coming month had to be postponed.

Grouplove at the Crystal Ballroom on April 21—click to see more photos by Jordan SleethGrouplove at the Crystal Ballroom on April 21—click to see more photos by Jordan SleethAs December passed and the new year began, the fate of the Grouplove show hung in the air. Then, finally, in February, we were informed of a new date for the show: April 21, which overlapped with the second weekend of Coachella. The Pacific Northwest owes a lot of thanks to the Southern California festival. Because of it, many artists opt to make a visit to our city while on the West Coast. Grouplove was one of the bands to do this, and because of it, 94.7 FM got to close out their December to Remember right.

As the sold-out crowd finally made their way into the Crystal Ballroom, there was an odd contrast between the weather outside and the festivities indoors. Usually, December to Remember is accompanied by dark, cold environs outside and a dim ballroom decorated with December to Remember banners inside. For this show, the sun shone bright and warm, basking the ballroom in sun even as the first band took the stage.

The night was one full of overdues, as local band Wild Ones played their first set in over a year. Having taken time off to write and record a new record, the Portland band made their return with the December to Remember slot. 94.7 FM has always highlighted the best of our city’s music scene, and Wild Ones surely fits the bill.

As the band played through their set, the crowd grew larger and larger, moving in closer as Grouplove’s set approached. With more than four months between the original date of the show and the rescheduled date, both band and fans had plenty of pent up energy, ready to make this show the best it could be. This goal was apparent as soon as Grouplove took the stage with “Traumatized,” a track from their latest record, Big Mess.

As soon as the music started, arms were in the air, voices were singing along, and fans from the front to the back were dancing and soaking up the music. Four months had come and gone, but now we were all finally together. It was a moment to cherish after such a long wait.

Grouplove at the Crystal Ballroom on April 21—click to see more photos by Jordan SleethGrouplove at the Crystal Ballroom on April 21—click to see more photos by Jordan SleethThe band played through songs off of all three albums, never letting the energy die down. Grouplove are known for their energy, and for Portland, they gave even more. At one point, the band paused to introduce a new track, never before heard.

“We’ve never played this live,” Hooper told us. “We might fuck up. But Portland’s the place to do it.”

For the first time ever, Grouplove played their new song, “MRI,” off of their exclusive Record Store Day release, Little Mess. The Portland fans were ecstatic to be the first to hear it, and their set list choices really demonstrated the band’s relationship with our city. Portland holds a special place for Grouplove, and Grouplove holds Portland dear as well. At one point during the show, Hooper took a moment to shout out their friends, local band Portugal. The Man, calling bassist Zach Carothers on the phone, who was in attendance and briefly appeared on stage to bang the drum a couple of times before Grouplove launched into “Tongue Tied.”

With such a close relationship to Portland’s music and their Northwest fan base, the California band gave our city everything they had and more. Though it may have been long overdue, Grouplove didn’t disappoint and closed 94.7 FM’s December to Remember with a bang.

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