There’s something about outdoor amphitheater shows that scream good lineups for concerts. Whether it’s the Greek Theatre and Hollywood Bowl in Southern California, or the much more secluded Santa Barbara Bowl a few hours north, there’s always those one or two concerts that boast two big names and try to play one off as an opener. On Friday night the Santa Barbara Bowl hosted such an event as Two Door Cinema Club received as its opening act Grouplove–not exactly the most subtle of openers. Grouplove plays every show like they’re the headlining slot at a major music festival and even though there was no pyrotechnics, it sure as hell felt like there had been.
Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper tear it up and burn it down every night, but playing at such a large outdoor venue like the SB Bowl only magnified their ability to galvanize any crowd. Their typically laid-back, indie rock tunes are transformed into red-blooded screamers that edged fans in the pit to the verge of moshing–casual listeners and those unfamiliar with the band’s live shows are often surprised to find just how punk-rock in energy Grouplove can be. They often cover “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys and their Bowl show was no different, topping off a similarly virulent performance of “Cannonball.” Playing like you love the hits and know all the words to the deeper cuts, it’s unsurprising that in Zucconi’s and Hooper’s confidence in strutting, leaping, and sprinting up and down the stage that the crowd is helpless but to follow suit. The couple’s onstage chemistry bleeds into the crowd and the duo has no qualms in getting up close and personal with the crowd, while Hooper’s glowingly charismatic smile and groovy dance moves get even the most chronic shuffler at concerts moving.
At one point Hooper shouted for the entire crowd to start waving their hands in the air, “Even if you’re just here for Two Door get your hands up!” The few unsure faces looked around but eventually, nearly everyone was standing as Zucconi madly shredded and howled his way through “Colours.”
By the time Two Door Cinema Club was set to take the stage, the crowd had been properly prepped and was so invigorated that people were standing up and dancing outside the GA pit, on top of their seats. No one gets a crowd going like Grouplove, but the main act had yet to even make an appearance. When the trio finally did come out the crowd could barely contain itself, but when the opening glitzy riff of “Cigarettes in the Theatre” began, the entire powder keg exploded. Unlike the percussion and vocal heavy vigor that Grouplove relies on, as well as their physical animation, Two Door Cinema Club’s vivaciousness is all sonics. Fans dance, shake their heads and hips, throw up their arms in an attempt to keep up with the spiraling electric guitar acrobatics of the trio’s glamorously ferocious playing. Like their openers, Two Door Cinema Club’s undercurrents of post-punk are pummeled through with delirium, as with “Undercover Martyn.” But under all the shiny lights and glittery hooks lead singer Alex Trimble’s breathless words are anything but trivial pop design–the vivid and fast glimpses that are given in every song share all the unfiltered, narrative imagery punk is known for. Hitting hard and fast, the danceable nature of the band’s rock tendencies makes them pure bliss as a live performer, while Trimble’s lucent croon twists the sly aggressiveness of their songs into something mesmerizingly beautiful. Dazzling but dynamic, lavish but raw; Two Door Cinema Club isn’t your younger sibling’s indie-pop band and like Grouplove, they sure know how to rip it up live.
Words & Photography: Steven Ward
More Photos of Two Door Cinema Club with Grouplove!