Object of “Grobanites’” Adulation Storms Indy
April 14, 2004
By David Lindquist
For music fans known as "Grobanites," epidemic cases of love at first listen brought them to their favorite singer.
Connie McDonald traveled Tuesday from Grand Rapids, Mich., to maintain her flame for Josh Groban -- the "popera" star who moves between easy-listening and classical styles.
Groban made his Indianapolis debut at the Murat Theatre, and McDonald said she was catching his live act for the 20th time.
"His voice is the thing that draws you," said McDonald, who met fellow fans from Illinois and Iowa at the Rathskeller restaurant before the show. "Then you meet him and see how sincere and hard-working he is."
While Groban was subdued in physical gestures during the first half of Tuesday's performance, he let his baritone vocals carry the show. He sang selections in English, Italian and Spanish, and the color black dominated his wardrobe and stage design. A stairway at center stage separated Groban's "pop" band from his traditional orchestra.
McDonald -- wearing a souvenir jacket and button customized with the statement, "Some call it stalking, I call it love" -- discovered Groban when he performed during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah.
Television marketing has defined Groban's emergence as a cultural phenomenon. Before the Olympics, he acted and sang as a relative unknown on "Ally McBeal." Some late adopters may have seen him for the first time during February's Super Bowl festivities.
Meanwhile, representatives from radio station WTPI-FM (107.9) were on hand to underscore their support of the 23-year-old vocalist. When the chart-topping "Closer" album arrived in stores last November, WTPI staged a midnight release party at a local Barnes & Noble. "For a long time, the only place people could hear this guy was on our station," WTPI Program Director Greg Havens said.
The secret is out. When the Murat show was announced seven months ago, all 2,500 tickets (priced $44.50 to $64.50) were sold in hours. On a nearby corner Tuesday, asking price for a seventh-row seat was $200. Inside, official T-shirts sold for $30 and a teddy bear wearing tiny Groban gear was $20.