By Julian Berzbach
Is it possible and successful to combine synth pop and electro beats with Rock ’n’ Roll and distorted guitars? Yes, it is!!
This is what the Northern-Irish band Two Door Cinema Club taught the crowd in Washington D.C. on October 4th, an unusually warm Friday evening for autumn, while playing their concert in the historic DAR Constitution Hall, a location that every President since Calvin Coolidge has attended for at least one event . Supported by the two newcomer bands Smallpools and St. Lucia, Two Door Cinema Club gave their 4th concert in D.C. since 2010 and provided the audience with a well-chosen set list, a mixture of their two albums “Tourist History” and “Beacon.”
They started their show at 9:45 pm with one of their smash hits called “Sleep Alone,” the lead single of their last album, “Beacon,” that combines elements of pop, rock and electro, leading into a catchy and thrilling sing-along song.
Alex Trimble, lead singer and guitarist of Two Door Cinema Club, mentioned once in an interview that the lyrics developed because of strange dreams he had in the past and his effort to analyze them in detail. “Sleep alone” also marked the beginning of a journey the band took their audience on this evening, a journey through the world of light effects, non-natural sounds and musical ecstasy.
Contrary to many other bands who try to build up a relationship with their crowd by delivering speeches and announcing each track individually, Two Door Cinema Club played a straight set without major interruptions (“We are happy to be back in D.C.” was one of the few sentences front singer Alex Trimble offered), carrying the audience with their music rather than interaction/words.
The primal force of their songs grabbed the approximately 3,500 people (the venue was almost sold out) from the first second, spreading a euphoric atmosphere and turning the Constitution Hall into a party place with people jumping and singing along.
“Undercover Martyn”, “Do You Want It All” and “This Is the Life” were the songs that followed, three tracks that were already released on their first LP “Tourist History.” They perfectly reflect the band’s ability to mix and make up unique and characteristic sounds, always supported by a distinctive and catchy chorus. But they also came up with new stuff this evening; “Changing of the seasons” was their fifth song, a track that was just released a few weeks ago on an EP (Extended Play). It impresses the listener through well-conceived guitar riffs and thumping disco beats, making demands to be a Two Door Cinema classic in the future. “Changing of the Seasons” is just the pickup for new stuff of the band; their third studio album is expected to be released at the beginning of 2014.
The mood of the crowd reached another peak when the band first strikes up “Come Back Home”, one of its most intense and powerful songs, followed by “Sun”, a track that is said to be the favorite of front man Alex Trimble. The dynamics of “Sun” were supported by flashy and bright yellow neon lights (see the lower of the two pictures) that referred to the text line: “Over and over many setting suns” and captivated the audience.
After this, before continuing the set, front singer Alex Trimble appealed to the audience by asking: “Is everyone doing OK?” a question he used to ask several times during the concert. Though people might argue that it is not more than a set phrase, it still shows the band’s effort to stay in close touch with their fans and to get their feedback, being aware of that its “meteoric rise” would not have been possible without them.
Constitution Hall remained a huge party place and when the band started to play the song “Pyramid,” lasers projected a pyramid into the smoke of the stage. The track is initially founded on a mysterious beat and undistorted guitars, but when the distorted guitars come in, the song erupts with power in a dynamic chorus.
For “I Can Talk”, the crowd got directly involved; Alex Trimble and his band members encouraged the audience to sing along with the chorus of the song, while they changed the tempo from time to time.
“The World Is Watching”, track number eleven on the set list of this evening and the only duet of Two Door Cinema Club so far, was performed without the London singer Valentina (she sings the chorus on the recording), but with the help of the audience who caused goose bumps when picking up and singing along the lyrics in the chorus “I want you with me!”
Before they left the stage for the first time, the band performed “Something Good Can Work,” the song that opened up the “door” for its incredible success story since 2009. It was followed “Next Year,” the opener on the “Beacon” album and a song written for friends they never have time to meet (“Maybe someday, you’ll be somewhere, talking to me”). “Handshake”, the first song they wrote for their album “Beacon” and a typical Two Door indie-dance number as well as “Eat That Up, It’s Good For You” marked the end of the first part of the concert.
Carried by the loud encore yells of the crowd, the three Northern-Irish guys returned to the stage after a few minutes, opening up the encore with “Someday”, an up-tempo and rock number that includes incisive guitar riffs. The atmosphere in the DAR Constitution Hall was boiling over.
Everyone who ever dealt with Two Door Cinema Club knows that there is one song that is mandatory for them to play, probably because it best reflects the foundation their success is built on. I am referring to “What You Know,” a kind of song listeners can recognize after a few seconds, a song that makes it nearly impossible to stay on their chairs. It has this potential to appeal to a huge number of people and evoke positive feelings, a song where everything from the first tone to the last tone interlocks perfectly. It was the band’s last song of this evening, a last mark to the DC crowd before they left the stage after ninety minutes.
The question is what remains after such a fantastic show, in a time where concerts often do not serve for more than evening entertainment?
From a musical perspective, it is good to see that bands are out there that try to combine the great force of a Rock ’n’ Roll song with the advancements of electric music and to create something completely new. Popular music has to evolve and already has started to evolve in the age of computers and the Internet, but the roots and basics of modern music should never be forgotten and be reflected in the work of the future bands. Though the concert was not longer than ninety minutes, the listener was taken on a journey for the entire time, being shown that it is possible to use the technological progress for recording great songs
As I left Constitution Hall, my thoughts came back to the history of this place, to all the American presidents who visited at least one event here and to all the great artists who already gave concerts here, from Marian Anderson to Whitney Houston.
And I started to realize that this venue always seems to be a good place to start something new and huge; yeah, and this is what I saw this evening. I am looking forward to their new album. There are no doubts that it will be great.
Two Door Cinema Club (Artist Profile)
Origin: Bangor/Donaghadee, Northern Ireland
Formed in: 2007
Style of music / Genres: Indie rock, dance-punk, synth-pop, new -wave, post-punk revival
Similar bands: Phoenix, the Postal Service
Band members: Alex Trimble (singer, guitarist, programmer)
Sam Halliday (guitarist, singer)
Kevin Baird (bassist, singer)
Touring/ Studio member: Benjamin Thompson (drums)
Discography (Albums): Tourist History (2010)
Achievements/Awards: Choize Music Price (Irish Album of the Year 2010)
“Beacon” Number one in Irish charts
Best known songs: “What You Know”, “Sun”, “Sleep Alone”, “Come Back Home”
Last release: “Changing of the seasons” (September 27th, 2013)
Concerts in DC (October 2013): 4 (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
Official Website: http://twodoorcinemaclub.com/home
Recommended Videos/ Live performances/Interview:
(What You Know, Music Video)
(Changing Of The Seasons, Music Video)
(Southside Festival, Live Performance 2013)
(Paris, Live Performance 2013)
(Interview, Last FM, 2012)
For more info and videos about Two Door Cinema Club, check out my Artist Profile