Live Review: Two Door Cinema Club with Bayonne at Black Cat, Washington, DC – 7th June 2016

By on Thursday, 9th June 2016 at 2:00 pm

The Two Door Cinema Club phenomenon has been ongoing for over a half decade now, and with their current brief American tour’s tickets flying out the door, it doesn’t show any signs of abating. Having been one of the first, if not the first journalist on this side of the pond to have written about them in years ago, it was especially sweet to have seen them play an intimate show (for them) at the Black Cat (around 700 capacity) Tuesday night in Washington. The last time they came through our city, they played DAR Constitution Hall (3,000 capacity) in 2013, so this date, along with the rest of the tour, was a concerted effort on their part to provide a more intimate experience ahead of a promised third album. I joked to Carrie before heading out to this show that I was praying for a civilised crowd, and one that would not require tasering to keep in line. At least where I was stood for the evening stage right, I was surrounded by respectful, vocally jubilant fans who wanted nothing else but a good night out watching their favourite band’s triumphant return in an intimate environment.

The opener for the evening and for this short tour of America this month was Austin-based musician Bayonne. The tall, mustachioed Roger Sellers is a force to be reckoned with live, even as a one-man band. To be honest, I was a little concerned to see how the music made by a guy with a tabletop full of electronics would fit with Two Door Cinema Club’s energetic indie rock. The first clue that should have told me everything was going to be okay was the drum standing next to Sellers’ setup.

While it’s true that in live performance that an important element of Bayonne’s sound are Sellers’ generally dreamy, chill vocals put through various effects, the electronics act more as a conduit than merely a means to an end or lazy musicianship. He’s very animated live, more than happy to pound his drums like no-one’s business. When he’s not doing that, he’s making gestures in time to the music coming back to him, playing air synth and pulling funny faces to get the crowd going, or preening, clearly fancying himself as a gorgeous creature. These are things that would not be obvious if you watched his recent video for ‘Waves’. While he might not have been an obvious choice to support such a well-established and beloved band like Two Door, his animated and amusing performance did a great job in building further anticipation towards the main event.

After it was reported that at their show last Saturday at Cambridge, Massachusetts venue The Sinclair that Two Door Cinema Club had previewed their new album with a track called ‘Game Show’, I for one was chomping at the bit to see what the Irishmen had up their sleeves in new material. I’m a little confused by this one after hearing it live, I have to admit. It’s heavy on reverb, with more of a psych feel than anything they’ve ever done before. It sounded me to me like the now-defunct Cashier No. 9 and YAK had a baby. Lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Trimble promised their third album is on its way before the end of the year, so stay tuned for that.

With two albums and an EP under their belt, they had plenty of material to fill a set well over an hour. However, they kept their set in DC close to 60 minutes, even with the encore, but smartly included their most fun, vibrant numbers to keep the energy in the room up for their entire time onstage. They swung back and forth and back again on tunes from their earliest days with 2010’s ‘Tourist History’ to those on 2012’s riskier ‘Beacon’ with ease. There’s something to be said about such a percussion-forward song like ‘Come Back Home’ being followed by an in-your-face song like ‘Wake Up’, with its closing shouts, and without skipping a beat.

Two Door Cinema Club at Black Cat, Washington DC, June 2016

While the two albums are quite different, as part of Two Door’s ongoing oeuvre, they all fit together wonderfully, parts of the patchwork of their entertaining catalogue. As their set went on, the volume of the fans singing back lyrics to the band seemed to be getting louder, being sung with increased gusto. I smiled to myself as I was reminded that I indeed remembered nearly every word on every song of theirs. That’s proof of good songcraft, of the incredible ability to write a memorable, toe-tapping tune.

When it came time for the encore and they began with ‘Someday’, I almost lost it. After seeing them perform the song a few years ago, I kept it close to my heart, its optimistic tone helping me keep the faith, even when things seemed to be going totally wrong and badly. It was shortly after that show of theirs that I tacked a copy of the song’s lyrics on my cupboard door at work. Those lyrics are still tacked there to this day: they remind me daily that fate works in mysterious ways and to keep my trust in it, no matter what. In a similar way, you can say going to a Two Door Cinema Club concert, for that hour or so watching them put on an amazing show, is a fantastic salve for whatever in your life is troubling you. In the song ‘Next Year’, Trimble sings the beautiful lines, “if you think of me, I will think of you.” And we’ll always remember Two Door Cinema Club and their crowd-pleasing songs.

After the cut, Two Door Cinema Club’s set list.

Two Door Cinema Club Set List:
Sleep Alone
Undercover Martyn
Do You Want It All?
This is the Life
Changing of the Seasons
Gameshow (new song)
Come Back Home
Wake Up
I Can Talk
Next Year
Something Good Can Work
Eat That Up, It’s Good for You
Cigarettes in the Theatre
What You Know

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