On the second to last date of their spring 2012 North American tour, Bangor’s Two Door Cinema Club decided to make a visit to a place they’d never been: Baltimore, Maryland. I myself don’t like the idea of trekking up a hour (usually more or in our case this night, nearly 2 hours) in traffic up the I-95 motorway, though if you ask Cheryl, she is there is all the time for gigs. Unless it’s a band that I’m dying to see that I know won’t be coming to Washington, I don’t bother. However, since seeing Two Door Cinema Club opening for Phoenix 2 years ago and watching their popularity skyrocket, I thought I better see them again before they become Coldplay untouchable and play at massive sport arenas. Because of the distance from DC, I didn’t expect the show to be sold out, until I had a look at the tour dates and noticed not just DC but Philadelphia as well had been left out of this tour.
I have always been claustrophobic. So you’re probably wondering how in god’s name I manage to survive music festivals or even sold out gigs in small, dark, confined spaces. Let’s just say I do them very carefully and with a lot of stress. Whenever possible, I arrive early to shows to get in the queue early in order to secure a desired and prime viewing and photography spot. I am of the mind that the time you arrive dictates your viewing location; you arrive late, that’s your decision, you stand wherever there is room in the back. However, as you can probably expect with a young band like Two Door, there were hordes of impolite teenage girls who don’t understand the meaning of ‘queue’, insisting instead on pushing their way to the front. Usually, I pay little mind to people like this, as long as my view is not obstructed and they’re not trying to push me out of the way. The injuries and bruising are just not worth it. But with Two Door Cinema Club, it’s different. I saw this band play to a nearly empty Constitution Hall in May 2010 and have been with them and writing about them from the beginning. If it wasn’t for some excited yet pretty nice kids around us, it would have made for a pretty bad evening.
The first opener was Bad Veins and it appeared I was the only person in the place who not only knew who they were but actually liked them. The Cincinnati duo released their first album in 2009 on American label Dangerbird (who have since signed Delphic and Beady Eye), yet I’m guessing something must have happened because then this label relationship dissolved and they released a new album in April on Austin label Modern Outsider. I was fine with their ‘former’ sound that was definitely on the alt side of rock, but I’ve noticed with new tracks like ‘Dancing on TV’ (video below), they’ve adopted a more poppy sound, a poppier sound that appeared to be going over well with the rabid Two Door crowd.
So it was most unfortunate that near the end of their set, singer Ben Davis went into his mike stand and fell off the stage. It happened so fast and people rushed to his side, I honestly thought that it was part of the act. But evidently it wasn’t: there was some dicey moments as it was revealed that he was bleeding from the back of his head from the spot where he hit his head on the concrete. What an ill-timed and dramatic ending to their set, just as they’d started to get the audience behind them. He finally got up and walked off, saying “sorry guys!” with a smile before leaving amid crowd cheers.
From what I can tell as a UK music blog editor, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a hell lot bigger abroad than they are at home. We’ve even given away tickets to their shows before. Their first song in Baltimore. was ‘Satan Said Dance’, which features the word “Satan” being repeated. A lot. The band went on hiatus in 2007: a 4-year album drought that broke fans’ hearts around the world but now they’re back, though I’m not really sure a Two Door Cinema Club tour is the way to win their fans’ hearts and minds back. Before heading up to Baltimore I read a review of this tour in Florida, where the blogger mused that the show sold only because CYHSY fans were in attendance (a bit of a backhanded compliment to Two Door regarding the sold out show). I can only say for those on the floor, everyone was there for Two Door, with some of the antsy younger fans yelling, “get off the stage!” and” we want Two Door!” in the hopes that CYHSY would truncate their set. All in all, they persevered in difficult conditions, even if their energetic music wasn’t to the taste of most people there.
And then came time for the long-awaited appearance of Two Door Cinema Club. I am probably showing my age – and years of gigging experience – when I say that I’m not impressed with over the top strobe lighting and if there is too much of it, I look away. Nevertheless, this was the first time in the DC/MD/VA area, not counting Virgin Free Fest last summer, where they brought their own lighting rig, and the difference it made in the overall atmosphere was astounding. This was obvious by the palpable increased excitement you could feel down on the floor. For many of these kids, this was probably their first big show with lighting to befit an arena, let alone a place like Rams Head. Thank goodness for earplugs: I’m pretty sure my ears would have popped with all the girls screaming.
The majority of punters would have been fine if the band had just stuck to tracks off ‘Tourist History’, but as any Two Door fan worth his or her salt knows, they’re finishing up album #2 and have been previewing new songs on this trip around our country. One of them, called ‘Sleep Alone’, made the festival rounds last year and has been popping up in the encore on this tour; I filmed a couple other videos, which will appear on TGTF later this week.
So how did I feel after this show? This was my fourth time seeing Two Door and having been a supporter of them ever since ‘Something Good Can Work’ was being played on BBC Radio in late 2009, I am so proud of where they are and them being so successful, because it’s proof hard work and real talent pays off. But I’m getting vibes of those girls who first watched the Beatles at the Cavern when they were unknown outside of Liverpool; Two Door don’t ‘belong’ to me anymore, they belong to everyone, far and wide on this great planet of ours.
Which is fine and it’s just the universe running its course, because I knew in my heart when I first queued up a sampler of theirs from Kitsune at Christmas 2009, it was obvious to me immediately that they were destined to bigger, better things. But there is still a part of me that yearns for days when we first met, when they were traveling all over America with Phoenix, wide-eyed and eager to learn the touring musician lifestyle from a band they so looked up to. Gone are the days when I could easily have gone up to them after a gig, to congratulate them on a great show and give them a hug of encouragement. What’s next for Two Door Cinema Club? If this show is any indication, their star will only burn brighter.