Thursday night at the sold-out 9:30 Club in Washington was laid out like a three course meal at a fancy restaurant. First up was Springfield, Missouri band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, whose name has be one of the strangest yet oddly memorable ones ever invented. Their music has a jaunty, peppy vibe and a perfect appetizer to start off the evening. Classic guitar riffs, bouncy melodies, really engaging instrumentation – all you really need or ever want in a good indie pop/rock band, really. (I’ve never understood the appeal of the Morning Benders; Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is definitely more my thing.) A great example: “Sink/Let It Sway,” which like its name suggests, makes bodies in a crowd sway.
I always find it really cool when band members play musical chairs, and this happened with this band, as the original lead singer switched off with the drummer, who took over bass, while the bass player took over lead vocal and guitar duties. The result: a decidedly harder rock song, so hard that the guy drumming lost a stick in the first few seconds of hitting the skins. Hardcore. Other highlights of their opening set were “All Hail Dracula!” (appropriate for the “Twilight” fans, perhaps?) and the wistful “Pangea.”
Following some crazy techno pumping up the crowd and overexcited Two Door Cinema Club fans chanting “ah-oh-ah-ah-oh” off key, it was time for the first of the two co-headliners. A blinding light show ushered in the Northern Ireland band, but I can forgive them because they were on point their entire set. It was like enjoying the best Indian curry of your life – exciting, sweat-inducing, full of life, like you never wanted the experience to end. Second song in, at the start of “Undercover Martyn,” lead guitarist Sam Halliday flashed a broad smile at us in response to the “we love you Sam!” shouting and I knew it was going to be one stellar show. Earlier that day, lead singer/guitarist Alex Trimble visited one of the Nation’s Capital’s many fine pawn shops and scored a used yet gorgeous Fender for his guitar collection. After introducing the lone brand new song on this tour, “Handshake,” he thanked the 9:30 audience for being part of the first gig of what is sure to be an exciting musical history for his new baby. The new song didn’t disappoint, with its handclaps and intricate guitar lines.
It’s hard to believe that the band admitted to radio personality Tara O. in Ottawa last week that when the band co-headlined with Kitsune labelmates Delphic on a tour of the UK in late 2009, they felt unprepared and under rehearsed compared to the more experienced electronic band from Manchester. The days of Two Door Cinema Club feeling tentative are long gone. Songs like the forthcoming single “What You Know” and the perennial favorite “I Can Talk” resulted in widespread pogo-ing and a sea of arms in the air. Kev Baird‘s relentless bass line in “Come Back Home” proves Two Door does indeed rock out hard, and their sound has definitely won over Washington. The band were quick to show their appreciation for the adulation being given to them, with Baird saying at one point, “my friend told me this is the best venue to play at in the United States. And he was right!” Bring on album #2, guys.
Two Door Cinema Club Set List:
Cigarettes in the Theatre
Hands Off My Cash, Monty
Do You Want It All?
Something Good Can Work
Handshake (new song)
You’re Not Stubborn
What You Know
Eat That Up, It’s Good for You
Come Back Home
I Can Talk
If Two Door Cinema Club was the entree, then Tokyo Police Club was the cooling dessert at the end of the meal, punctuated with hot fudge and a cherry on top. Funnily enough, one of the more memorable moments that can be attributed to the Canadian band happened before they even stepped foot onstage. I guess Tokyo Police Club are big Tom Jones fans, judging by the incidental music played before their set. “What’s New Pussycat” played on repeat at least four times, and I overheard one person behind me complain to his gigging buddy, “I seriously want to die.” As if someone was listening, “It’s Not Unusual” came out over the PA and everyone around me started singing along in approval.
The crowd reaction for Tokyo Police Club, at least in the beginning, seemed completely the opposite of the one for Two Door. Instead of responding physically, Tokyo’s fans seemed rapt with attention for lead singer/bassist Dave Monks, singing along to their idol. Overall, a much chiller vibe seemed to settle over the crowd. Later on though, “Wait Up (Boots of Danger)” and “Breakneck Speed,” both from last year’s release Champ, went down a treat and upped the energy level back up again. But what was the pièce de résistance? The bands joining forces to do an unexpected encore of the Strokes‘ “Last Nite.” Doesn’t really get better than this on a cold winter’s night in DC, I can assure you.
Jan 22 – Trocadero / Philadelphia^&*
Jan 23 – Newport Music Hall / Columbus^&*
Jan 25 – Masquerade / Atlanta^&*
Jan 26 – Crowbar / Tampa^&*
Jan 27 – Social / Orlando^&
Jan 28 – Culture Room / Ft. Lauderdale&*
Jan 29 – Jack Rabbit’s / Jacksonville&*
Jan 31 – Spanish Moon / Baton Rouge&*
Feb 01 – Granada Theater / Dallas&*
Feb 02 – La Zona Rosa / Austin&*
Feb 03 – Warehouse Live / Houston&*
Feb 05 – Exit-In / Nashville&*
Feb 07 – Blue Note / Columbia, MO&*
Feb 10 – Mad Hatter / Covington, KY&*
^with Two Door Cinema Club
& with Tokyo Police Club
*with support from Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
Two Door Cinema Club: website | myspace | Two Door Cinema Club To Tour with Phoenix in Spring, Headline First North American Tour | “Something Good Can Work” video | @ Constitution Hall | Interview with: Sam Halliday of Two Door Cinema Club | @ Johnny Brenda’s | Two Door Cinema Club Announce Fall North American Tour | “Come Back Home” video | Two Door Cinema Club to Re-Release Debut Album with CD of Remixes and Special Documentary | Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History (Deluxe Edition) | Tokyo Police Club and Two Door Cinema Club Announce January 2011 Co-Headlining Tour | @ Neumo’s | Two Door Cinema Club – “What You Know” video
Tokyo Police Club: website | myspace | ‘It’s Good to be Back’: Tokyo Police Club – Champ | Bonnaroo 2010, Day 2 | @ Record Bar | @ Neumo’s
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin: website | myspace | @ Neumo’s | SXSW 2011 2nd round of announcements