Baxblog regulars with superior memories will recall last week's post on the Grouplove gig we decided to hit up. We did, they put on a terrific show and we had a great night. They have a really fun, energetic stage presence, tight musicianship, an impressive number of standout tunes given their entire catalog at his point is one EP and one LP and, it turns out, something of a following. The venue was close to sold out on a Wednesday night, fuller than I've ever seen it except for that freak show Neko Case & Calexico put on years ago. Most of the crowd was way hip to the scene, going nuts for their favorite songs and singing along to most of them. I'd describe their vibe as Pixies minus the neuroses. The tunes are poppy and accessible without being shallow or pandering. They seemed completely ecstatic to be up there playing music for us, the songs were really strong, and the crowd gladly reflected that ecstasy back at them. They have a couple of obvious standout tracks, but there wasn't a single real lull in their setlist. Usually if you see a group you're not very familiar with a couple of songs will catch your ear, but you'll spend most of the show finding your footing. That was not the case at this show.
So, that was the music.
Here is the crazy internet coincidence subplot.
Danielle had picked up their EP, liked it, and turned Meek on. Meek heard they were coming to town and made me watch a couple of videos on Vimeo, and that was the extent of my exposure.
Knowing next to nothing about the band and being a curious sort, I checked out the Grouplove site .
I'm poking around looking at pictures and the bass player looks familiar from somewhere, but I can't quite place it. Couldn't find any biographical stuff on the site, so I googled up some backstory and came across this interview.
Sean Gadd- I know that name. Where from?
He's from the UK? Oh wait...is that...could that be Half n' Half from years ago on my boxing forums?
Off to Facebook to query Inty, one of my boxing pals who can confirm my suspicions.
"Uh, hey, do you happen to remember Half n' Half's real name? Because I have a sneaking suspicion he's in a band I'm seeing next week."
"Sean Gadd. And his band is touring the US right now, so you probably are."
So, the night of the show arrives.
We get in and are milling around getting our sea legs when Meek says "Hey, there's your friend by the merch table."
Being slightly tipsy, I head over and yell "HALFIE!" in his face, then garble out a list of internet names who've told me to say 'howdy'. He very graciously did not call for security, and his mildly concerned who is this nutter and what the fuck is he on about? look was completely justified. I babbled some more, he was gracious some more, then neatly extricated himself and headed backstage.
Note to self:
When greeting an IRL stranger you've only met on a forum years ago, maybe start with "We know each other from online, I'm so and so from the _____ forums!"
Anyway, we had a few more drinks, the show started and it was fantastic.
Built to a wild crescendo when after a brief walk-off the band returned to the stage and EXPLODED their two best songs. That got everybody dancing, even the sober people in back & the barflies who hadn't taken a foot off the rail all night. And the true believers in the first few rows were going completely berserk, almost levitating onto the stage- I was half expecting some heads to explode, Scanners style.
We hung out for a while after, letting the place empty out & adding a few bucks to Meek's open bar tab.
I look up, and there's Halfie (or rather Sean...that's one problem with getting to know people online, it's hard to adapt to their actual name. I have friends I made on a BBS in the early 90's that I'm still calling by their screen names) heading our way.
At some point he'd figured out WTF I was talking about, and came out for a drink. The gals were agog that this rock god who'd just spent the last hour or so going mad onstage was out having a friendly chin wag with yours truly. I doubt anything better prepares you for sharing a friendly drink than years spent yelling invective at one another over who won a boxing match. We got caught up- or rather, I got caught up, as he's the one leading the fascinating life. My big conversational 'reveal' was assuring him that yes, the weather here is indeed this beautiful all the time. Meanwhile, he's done Letterman and they just played Coachella to general acclaim.
It's always heartening to see someone achieve their dreams, especially someone I know has been working their ass off at it for many years. Very cool to run into him in this wildly random way, and now when they really blow up (which, having seen their act, I have absoultely zero doubt they will) I'll have, in the words of the Wife's favorite aunt, a story I can dine out on.