Live Review: Two Door Cinema Club with Guards and Friends, 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 2nd October 2012
Technically, until this week, Two Door Cinema Club have not played in Washington DC proper in nearly 2 years. (And at that time in January 2010, they only sold out 9:30 Club with the help of Tokyo Police Club fans, who I learned don’t really overlap with Two Door fans.) That all changed when they played back to back shows at our most famous club venue. This time, the first show announced sold out quickly because of Two Door’s name, and to make it all the more sweeter, the DC market was the first one to sell out (requiring a second date to satisfy hungry fans), the first market in this North American tour to do so. These facts were not lost on Two Door, who thanked the fans later in the show Tuesday night for having supported them through the very beginning.
Historically speaking, DC was one of the first places they ever gigged in America, in spring 2010, supporting the then-massive Phoenix.) Tuesday night, the first of the two sold out shows, was a far cry from those early beginnings as an unknown Irish band. Girls in the queue with me, having never seen the band perform before, squealed with the prospect of finally seeing the boys live. Once inside, I made new friends. Once it was time for them to go on, the venue was rammed of course, but everyone respected each other. I even was able to step into the pit to take photos and come back to the spot down the front that I had secured when doors open. That never happens. Maybe I was just lucky, but I felt the vibe was entirely different than the show we’d seen in Baltimore in June.
But first were two supports. Guards, a New York City trio with two touring band members, have a huge sound and great pop/rock melodies. I liked most of their set; when rocking out hard, they resembled Band of Skulls, and when they were pop, they could have matched the Postelles. They even had a song that sounded so California surf pop, in a way that went far beyond Best Coast’s abilities. I Tweeted, that I thought they had better and a hell lot catchier songs than Foster the People. That was until they went proggy on me, with squealing guitars, fog that engulfed not just the stage they were on but the first couple rows of the stalls and outros that seemed to go on forever (and that’s not a compliment). They have an album coming out next February that will be worth to keep an ear out for; time will tell which way (pop/rock or prog) they will go.
The second support was indie darlings Friends, who I skipped at the Great Escape because 1) I didn’t feel like queueing for their show with Niki and the Dove at Horatio’s but 2) I really didn’t feel like trekking down Brighton Pier to get in said queue. I’m glad I didn’t bother. I realise there are quite a few fans of them reading TGTF, but they aren’t my thing at all. I forget where I read it, but someone once said regarding their band’s appearances at UK festivals that Friends live felt like Samantha Urbani’s personal band. That’s exactly how their whole setup felt like (which did no favours for the rest of the band, who on the whole had the bouncy, rhythmic sound that works well to warm up crowds for a headliner). For those of us who remember Madonna in her ‘Like a Virgin’ phase, Urbani was doing her best conjure up that ghost of Madonna’s past. Wearing a very tight and somewhat revealing black dress, she squealed and moaned her way through their set in what I considered a pretty unladylike fashion.
My guess is that the majority of the audience were minors; that’s not the audience you should be asking as a singer to join you in some “heavy breathing”, eh? The oohing she was doing in ‘Mind Control’ sounded like she was having a private sexual moment. There must be something to their production, because her voice was much more pointed than I remembered from record. The instrumentation was great, but I thought that they were going to be much better (for one, there was this strange muddled buzzing sound, which I guessed was a bass issue), since they have been hyped since their early plays on 6music. My conclusion: they’re overrated. And apparently no-one in the audience had any idea who they were, because it looked like I was the only person who knew the words to ‘I’m His Girl’ (er, thanks Lammo). Tom liked their album ‘Manifest!’, but live, they weren’t for me.
After a tortuous half-hour waiting, the house lights went down again, and a couple dance tracks were played to pump up the crowd as the early stages of lighting began. The band then bounded onstage to thunderous applause, launching into current single ‘Sleep Alone’. This was the first time I’d witnessed ‘Cigarettes in the Theatre’ not being the opening track, and this is just as good, if not a better choice to begin with. The set went from one strength to another, traversing both ‘Tourist History’ and recently released ‘Beacon’ to great effect. While ‘I Can Talk’ and other stalwarts from the debut album garnered expected massive responses from the fans, new songs ‘Settle’, showing off these specially made lit boxes onstage, and ‘Someday’, with its funky bass line and frenetic guitar parts, went down brilliantly. You’d never have known ‘Costume Party’ was a non-album track, as it practically blew the roof off the place.
I got a huge lump in my throat when it came time for ‘Next Year’. I wasn’t sure if they’d play it, but I am so glad they did, even if I did feel like crying. For me, that’s the song that whenever I hear it reminds me that these boys that were new to the world I met 2 years ago fully understand the gravity of their situation, their success. It is a song about choices you make when you become a full time musician; they miss their family and friends and can’t guarantee where they are going to be for special occasions, because a musician’s life is hard with all the touring. Knowing that I have seen them five times now means that they have given up five different nights of their lives to make five different nights in my life amazing. I have followed them around, having seen them play in a small club in Philadelphia that wasn’t filled at all to this, two sold out nights at the 9:30. All that hard worked paid off for them. And I couldn’t be happier.
Cheers Two Door Cinema Club. My friends, you made it a night to remember. You know that you will always be welcome here. DC will always have your back.
After the cut: Two Door Cinema Club’s set list.
Two Door Cinema Club Set List:
Do You Want It All?
This is the Life
You’re Not Stubborn
I Can Talk
Something Good Can Work
Eat That Up, It’s Good for You
Come Back Home
What You Know