The marquee outside The Warfield Theatre read “Two Door Cinema Club,” signifying the long line of concert-goers that waited for hours down the street. A good number were in the box office line, only for staff to come out and announce they only had four tickets left for the night. Five months after their second ever San Francisco show, at the Fillmore, Two Door Cinema Club returned to the city, to a bigger venue and a completely sold out crowd.
The Lonely Trees were the first openers, likeable and fresh, a good way to start out, but not super memorable. Grouplove from Los Angeles came after, with a stronger stage presence and interesting sartorial choices: drummer in colorful boxer briefs, the bassist wrapped in a Union Jack and old hat, the guitarists looked straight out of a Haight-Ashbury thrift shop, and the keyboardist wore an eccentric black lace dress with a completely sheer skirt. They shared their eager energy with the audience and got them dancing to their own brand of Cali indie rock. In between during set breaks, dance music that the fans had grown up on, like Daft Punk, was played. The band hadn’t even arrived but the Warfield turned into a mini rave as the audience jumped and sang along, it was euphoric already.
From the moment “2DCC” as they’ve come to be called, stepped onstage, ecstatic screams from the crowd were so loud that you couldn’t even hear your own. As the first beats to “Cigarettes in the Theatre” began, the strobe lights seemed to be going off a million times per second, and the crowd’s anticipation could be felt in every way, leaving it hard to breathe. The night was definitely worth every second of the five hour total wait for the boys from Northern Ireland. The shimmering high notes peeling from Sam Halliday (lead guitarist) and Alex Trimble (vocalist)’s Gretsch and Fender guitars set the crowd adrift into a frenzied sea, the floor was being jostled back and forth, hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder. It was impossible to move, but impossible not to dance. Meanwhile, Benjamin Johnson, a blonde blur attacking his drum kit in a Fred Perry polo, and Kevin Baird on bass sparked the perfect rhythm to jump and clap along to.
The beautiful, intimate Warfield was the perfect setting for songs from their debut album, Tourist History (2010, which won Irish Album of the Year), especially when the audience sang along so loudly to their favorites like the fast paced “Undercover Martyn” and “What You Know”, heightening the emotion in Trimble’s lyrics. Not surprisingly for this band, new material that had just been debuted at this summer’s Glastonbury festival like “Sleep Alone” and “Handshake” were well memorized by the crowd. Though Tourist History was just released last February, and the band seemed to break out everywhere this year, it feels as if the four have been performing live for much longer.
The whole thing was punky in the “old school London in the 80’s” way in that many of the songs were short, sharp and energetic. Just the feeling of being in San Francisco lent itself to the dance party atmosphere, and it was easy to see that Two Door Cinema Club was happy to be here. The youth of the crowd was obvious and explained the electric spirit and exhilaration, barely containable. The band themselves were charming (It’s more than the accents. They manage to come off as shy and show off-y at the same time, greatly enthusiastic but calmly cool) and polite – Trimble apologized for technical difficulties in his soft voice, throwing some choice words in of course. His famous ginger hair flailed around every now and then, illuminated by bursts of strobe light. (On another memorable note, the resemblance between Baird, Trimble, and Halliday with a certain Harry, Ron, and Neville is striking!) Their talent as live performers and songwriters promises that they’re far more than a flash in the pan; they’re a unique, here-to-stay band that’s working towards being part of defining a time.
The night was spent immersed in bright melodies punctuated by Two Door Cinema Club’s trademark electro sounds and a crowd loudly in love with them. It finally finished off with their “I Can Talk,” sending the audience into a final frenzy true to sparkling fashion. Undoubtedly, one of the most passionate shows of 2011, and one to remember for years.