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REVIEW: Two Door Cinema Club, Grouplove Have Wiltern Audience Dancing Out Of Their Skin

Allegra Tepper |
September 27, 2011 | 11:54 a.m. PDT

Staff Contributor

Two Door Cinema Club at the Wiltern (Allegra Tepper)
Two Door Cinema Club at the Wiltern (Allegra Tepper)
Thursday night, fierce, incessant strobe lights and a bass line that shook you to your core filled what space was left by the restless crowd in the Wiltern Theatre. The packed house pulsed with anticipation, sweaty and riled up after an explosive, headline-worthy performance by an opening act.  As the lights rose, four young Irish blokes with perfect combovers and matching blue oxford shirts strolled on stage.  The crowd roared for what appeared to be a small boys’ chorus rehearsing after Sunday school.  Confused yet? Therein lies the perfect paradox that is Two Door Cinema Club.

But more on the indie powerhouse and Northern Ireland’s musical crown jewel in a moment. It first begs noting that opening band Grouplove (who followed an early performance by The Lonely Forest) prepped the TDCC crowd like a black truffle encrusted prime rib marinated with fig sherry, tarragon and a pinch of ecstasy.  

The five-piece band, who met at an artists’ commune on the Greek island of Crete, have a Cults meets Foster the People kind of vibe, with a little bit of Zeppelin sprinkled in. Their throbbing sound (indeed lead singer Christian Zucconi does perhaps as much screaming as he does singing) is as unapologetic as female vocalist Hannah Hopper’s flailing, tambourine-shaking dance moves.  Those played in funky juxtaposition with ukulele riffs and a stage covered in sunflowers, chrysanthemums, and hydrangeas that matched the feminine floral tees adorning the scruffy, spur-sporting guitarists. A total sensory overload, yes. But it all just worked.  

Grouplove is an act to watch, first and foremost at their headlining show at the El Rey on October 26.  Their upbeat tunes like “Colours” and “Don’t Say Oh Well” have a sunny exuberance that’s made for live performance.  They’ve already got a solid fan base here in their hometown of Los Angeles, hosts of which came ready to chant along. 

With the energy at the Wiltern dialed up to 11, Two Door Cinema Club erupted.  Opening the show with “Cigarettes in the Theatre,” the band was calm, cool and collected, all the while sending the audience into an absolute euphoria. It was simultaneously impossible to move and impossible not to dance in the cloud of flannel, leather jackets, and sweat.  

They followed that up with “Undercover Martyn,” also off their insanely catchy debut album Tourist History, on which the drummer hammered on that kit like it was his last performance before the inferno.  While his performance was bigger than anyone else’s on stage (with the exception of a quick and fiery turn late in the show by bassist Kevin Baird), drummer Benjamin Thompson isn’t actually in TDCC.  That said, after this tour, perhaps they ought to consider his induction. 

Lead singer Alex Trimble was a self-styled Dudamel during “Do You Want It All?,” literally conducting both the lights and the chorus coming from the audience.  With each repetition of the titular phrase, the ten globe-like flickering backlights got a little brighter, the audience a little louder, and the energy a little more rapturous. 

“Kids” had girls swaying about like belly dancers, and lead guitarist Sam Halliday’s mind-boggling solo on “This is the Life” drew screams that rivaled his high-pitched tremolo. Blue lights dancing across the stage looked like little Pacman ghosts, and the song made you feel as carefree as you did playing it at the arcade in junior high. 

Trimble introduced the next tune simply: “This one is a summer song,” a most apt introduction to the band’s first single “Something Good Can Work.” It was with this song that Trimble seemed to shed both his pomade and his inhibitions, his hair flopping around just as he did to guitar riffs and high hat grooves made for a stage. Unlike their typically staccato endings, “Something Good Can Work” finished with a finale-worthy crescendo; thankfully, though, TDCC wasn’t even halfway through the 16-song set.

Despite the next tunes’ being new, there was no shortage of audience members quick to join in on “Handshake” (grab hold of this gritty and delectable mp3 the moment it comes out!) and “Costume Party,” charts that Two Door debuted at Glastonbury this summer. These, along with “This is Moon” and “Sleep Alone,” revealed that the band’s sophomore album might have a darker sound—relatively speaking, of course. (Note: Trimble wasn’t bashful about announcing the band’s plans to “disappear and record another album in the next few months.”)

The band finished off the set with “You’re So Stubborn,” “Eat That Up, It’s Good For You,” and of course, “What You Know,” during which the crowd was bouncing around like Mexican jumping beans. It was reminiscent of that exhilarating club scene in Trainspotting—hands filling every inch of the peripheral, illuminated by strobe lights and beaming smiles as people seem to be all but dancing right out of their skin. 

A cry for an encore didn’t last long; they’re still too humble to milk it.  One oxford shirt down, Baird returns in a tank top—he was melting, as was every girl in the audience.  They closed the show with a generous three more tunes, ending it all with “I Can Talk.” Walking out of the theatre was bittersweet; “I saw them when…” moments loom in the not-so-distant future. Trimble finished the show with a resolute, “See you next year!” There’s no doubt they will, and the marquee will still read “SOLD OUT,” though next time, it’ll be the Greek. 

Reach reporter Allegra Tepper here.

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