LIVE REVIEW: Tokyo Police Club, Portugal. The Man, Grouplove @Avila Beach Resort, San Luis Obispo, CA

grouplove2 There was really no better venue to host the third stop of the 13th annual Honda Civic Tour than at the Avila Beach Resort- which is not actually in San Luis Obispo, as Tokyo Police Club so duly noted, but close enough to settle any confusions about its actual location. Nonetheless, this by-the-beach locale provided the perfect atmosphere for what was destined to be a pumped up show. With a stage production planted right in the middle of a ritzy golf resort, the whole setup felt like a counterculture takeover, and as we stood in line to get into the grounds, angry golfers threatened to run over fans that wouldn’t get out of the way of the golf cart path that was closed off, much to their dismay. 142 The Avila Beach Resort is a beautiful place for a concert. Unfortunately the view of the renowned Avila Beach was obscured by the stage, but the venue is tucked away in a lush, green mountain enclave replete with an ocean breeze. Tokyo Police Club was the first to take the stage as direct support for co-headliners Portugal. The Man and Grouplove. The Ontario quartet set the tone for the night with their keyboard laden, indie rock enthusiasm. David Monks is a solid vocalist whose voice does not err in the slightest in a live setting, even as the last bit of evening sun blazed in his face. Keyboardist Graham Wright’s fancy footwork also kept me entertained for most of the set, as he alternated between keyboards and backup guitar. Their set was dominated by tracks from their latest album, Forcefield, which came out earlier this year, but ended on a solid TPC standby with “Your English is Good” from their 2008 album Elephant Shell. 152 The crowd grew denser as Portugal. The Man prepared to play. The last time I saw PTM my ears rang for a solid two days (an early sign of hearing loss but an indication of a kick ass rock show). Luckily, this outdoor concert didn’t blow out my eardrums, though that’s not to say they didn’t deliver in the volume department. The best thing about a PTM show is that they weave multiple songs together without any breaks, often times throwing in an old classic. They started out this set with the intro from Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in The Wall”, that turned into their own energetic song “Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue.” The second best part of a PTM performance are the many, many jam interludes in the middle of a song. It’s almost impossible to tell where one ends and when another begins because the amount of riffing and musical banter that goes on between guitarist/vocalist John Gourley and bassist Zach Carothers is ongoing. The Alaskan group clad in black Pittsburgh caps rocked through the set, abusing their instruments in a myriad of ways; Zach smacks the back of the bass head as if to eek out a stronger sound from the instrument. I was taken aback when I heard the beginnings of their song “Waves” from their latest album Evil Friends. It was noticeably absent from the setlist when I saw them last year, and I have to say very much to my disappointment. When they started playing this oh-so-appropriate track (considering the beach setting), I, as we concert goers say, “lost my shit.” This is a band that really knows how to keep a crowd intrigued, not only with their energy but in their ability to weave pop culture into their set. Between their comic rendition of the Always Sunny in Philadelphia classic “Dayman” and Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” they are able to reach various demographics within the crowd, that, as became apparent later in the show, were  there for Grouplove. Even though half the crowd wasn’t singing along, at least from my view, they certainly were rocking out and absorbing the band’s electrifying performance. By the time PTM had finished their set, the quota for crowd surfers had been exceeded and the air was rife with stinky smoke. 167 I’ve seen Grouplove before–a little over two years ago at a very small venue in San Luis Obispo. It was that moment right before they hit their stride as a musical powerhouse; they had just come off their first Coachella showcase and made a pit stop in our little city which they in turn blew the metaphorical roof off of. Back then, Hannah Hooper’s hair was a natural brown and she wore a knee length, thrift store floral dress. And Christian…well… if anything his hair was maybe less blue then. Now, after releasing a second full length album called Spreading Rumours, the band struts with ever more confidence, if that is even possible for the five piece who, even then were a little ball of fire. Now Hannah runs all over the stage in a black winged body suit and bleach blond hair and the other band members are just as entertaining. They have more command of the audience than I even remembered. They entered the stage playing “I’m With You,” with a chillingly long intro. From that point on, the energy on the stage and in the crowd stayed high. There were many moments in the show that made evident how much fun this band has together. During “Bitin’ the Bullet,” the crowd was enticed to throw their hats on stage at which point Hannah tried each and every one on before throwing it back into the crowd without discretion as to whom it belonged. Eventually, when it came to her interlude on the song, she donned a child’s propeller hat. By the end , Christian was crowd surfing and high fiving all of us in the pit. It’s this kind of crowd interaction that I wait hours for. “Slow” was yet another riveting performance as the song turned into an all out drum circle by the end. Drummer Ryan Rabin had LED drumsticks that alit with every smash. It felt like a disco-rave tribal dance, which is not an ordinary concert experience by any means. Every song was a massive sing-along to the point where Christian and Hannah’s vocals were washed out. Tracks from their first album Never Trust a Happy Song were the ones that hit home the hardest as not one person was silent. Their grand finale of their arguably biggest hit “Colours” wa profound and intense beyond measure. A not so happy song to begin with, it was performed in front of a gray screen for nearly its entirety until the very ending when a Technicolor explosion went off as the band and audience screamed its last liens. There was no encore but there didn’t really need to be as people stood there for about five minutes just processing everything that had happened. San Luis Obispo was just the third stop on the Honda Civic tour this year, so there is still plenty more opportunity to catch this co-headlined tour. The production that Honda puts on is nothing short of what you would expect from these three bands that plain and simply, know how to rock. Here are the remaining dates: Aug 21 Red Rocks Amphitheatre Morrison, CO Aug 22 Harrah’s Council Bluffs, IA Aug 24 Eagles Ballroom Milwaukee, WI Aug 27 Simon Estes Amphitheatre Des Moines, IA Aug 29 Crossroads Kansas City, MO Aug 30 South Side Ballroom Dallas, TX Sep 02 Masquerade Music Park Atlanta, GA Sep 03 Uptown Amphitheatre Charlotte, NC Sep 05 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, OH Sep 10 LC Pavilion Columbus, OH Sep 12 Merriweather Post Pavilion Washington, DC Sep 14 Blue Hills Bank Pavilion Boston, MA Sep 16 Rumsey Playfield, Central Park New York, NY