photo by Courtney Garcia
What makes live music better than recorded goes beyond the mere experience of musical interpretation and nuance. To see a band in their element; to watch how they color the stage in a cloak surrounding their opus; to understand how a group of average looking people transform into rock ‘n’ roll oddities, that is the power of the live experience.
At their performance this Friday in San Francisco, California, Two Door Cinema Club embraced such raison d’etre full force. Taking over the The Warfield with Grouplove, the show, while not without its kinks, was a pleaser both for fans who knew every lyric and those who’d read about them on a blog and wanted to witness the buzz. Both groups showcased their popular work, filtering in a few new pieces along the way, and bringing to life the magic of rock.
Entering the stage to the sound of Kanye West’s “Monster,” Grouplove played a little over a half hour, performing work from their new album Never Trust A Happy Song, including “Colours,” the song with which they closed. The quintet is the creation of vocalists Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi, who were introduced originally in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, then traveled together to an artist residency on the island of Crete. In Greece, the two met the other artists who would form their band. After a series of back and forths, all members settled in Los Angeles to focus on their music.
Hooper, a San Francisco native and definite flower child, offered a nice balance of power with Zucconi, and the group’s vocals as a collective were especially impressive. They came across almost like a mini-version of Arcade Fire, less developed but with a similar free spirit and incandescent buoyancy. The guys have long rocker hair; Hooper wears a playful bob. Their clothes are hippie meets hipster, and their sound is that prevalent new hybrid of pop, rock and electronic.
Grouplove certainly held their own, but when Two Door Cinema Club took control of the stage, it was clear who were the experts. Grouplove’s simple banner was replaced with a giant backdrop sporting the Irish rockers’ logo, and several rows of spotlights were lined up, evoking the feel of film photography.
Throughout the show, the lights were used as strobes, as backlights, and as filters changing the colors of the stage. It was stylish and sophisticated, much like the band. Their polished look and charming dialect, combined with the electronic beats belying their music, made the group somewhat of a cross between Death Cab and Arctic Monkeys, yet never veering too close to either.
Another act signed to indie’s finest, Glass Note Records, Two Door Cinema Club describes themselves as “three people with the help of technology and a thirst for anything quirky.” They played for just over an hour, opening with “What You Know,” and concluding with a three-song encore. There was a momentary pause at the beginning of their performance; apparently, the band was having a technical difficulty imperceptible to everyone else.
“We want to give you guys our best, and not some half-assed set,” said frontman, Alex Trimble. “Give us like five minutes.”
After five minutes of watching tech guys scour the stage for any apparent glitch, Two Door Cinema Club returned. Their show was great because their music is great, and the musicians more than measured up as a live act. Even when they played new work, which doesn’t typically bode well for lack of familiarity, the crowd was happy. It’s exciting when a band exceeds expectations. It’s more exciting when they embrace flaws, show their character and take risks that work to their advantage.
This is Two Door Cinema Club live. Check them out asap.