Two Door Cinema Club & The Vaccines live
Earlier this month, I attended a show at a cinema club (with two doors) where everybody was getting themselves vaccinated against giant jungle creatures. Oh wait, no I didn’t. That’s what my ticket implied, but it turned out to be a gig in Sydney featuring three bands; three very popular bands whose names relate to them more than you might think.
The night kicked off with The Jungle Giants doing their best to fill that big Hordern Pavilion stage. For a pretty young band that only formed a couple of years ago (at school) they really rocked. Even though the Jungle Giants were the first support act, the venue was already packed and everyone jumped around with their hands in the air for She’s a Riot and Mr Polite. There’s something wonderful about young bands… the way they move and interact with each other and the audience is so endearing and genuine. While I LOVED the chick on bass, I wished that it felt like she was a bit more a part of the band rather than being stuck out on the side doing her own thing. Overall though, these guys had great energy and if the ‘Jungle’ is the Aussie indie pop scene, I’d say there’s potential to become ‘Giants’. They were the perfect support act for Two Door Cinema Club.
Then came The Vaccines, who were more like a second headliner than a support. Their backdrop was the album cover of 2012’s Come of Age. It had four torsos sitting gothic portrait style and from song to song they would glow luminescently in different colours. I knew why these guys were called The Vaccines from the first 30 seconds of their set. Their strong driving beat and ability to totally kill it live left the audience immune to anything bad. I was a bit disappointed with the lighting though, as I was sure that both guitarist Freddie Cowan and bassist Árni Hjörvar had worked far too hard on their biceps to be hidden in the shadows.
Frontman Justin Young, dressed in Vaccines t-shirt (why wash when you can raid the merch stand) had a ball on stage and it was clearly contagious as the young carefree crowd went nuts singing to pretty much every song. It was refreshing to see and hear that the band had not been tempted to add a synth. Their power is in their simple pop melodies, their engaging live performances and (let’s be honest) the attractiveness of every single damn member of the band – a combo that makes them incredibly likable.
Although some critics have argued that The Vaccines’ second album, Come of Age, released last year, was not as strong as their debut, gauging by the audience, that’s not very valid. Songs from the recent record, such as No Teenage Icon and I Always Knew, pack as much indie pop punch as their first album hit Wetsuit (the one where they made the filmclip out off everyone’s festival photos). The grimy, country style of Bad Mood was super sexy. That’s a new sound for the Vaccines and something of which I’d love to hear more.
Finally it was time to (figuratively) enter the cinema – a place where we watch, but don’t actively participate, which funnily enough seemed to be exactly what was happening on stage. The guys from Two Door Cinema Club barely moved up there and only engaged with the audience about twice. It’s as though they used volume and production to compensate for their lack of energy and personality. There were puffs of smoke and lights flashing everywhere constantly. You know those ones that flash right in your eyes? Yeah, there was an epileptic fit worth of those.
Perhaps off the back of the second album that, like the Vaccines, hasn’t had the same acclaim as their first, they turned to other ways to impress. I saw them in 2011 and couldn’t fault them. Their clean-boy pop and almost artificial precision was amazing. It was such a tight, well-rehearsed set from the then 20-year-olds. I also listened to the set that Two Door performed at the Lorne Falls Festival just a few days before this gig and it was great. With that in mind, I’ll put aside the fact that their on-stage presence reminded me of lifeless wedding cake figurines and assume that they had a bloody good time at Falls and were still recovering. In saying that, there is no excuse for bad production (even when they wheeled out the piano, it was covered in garish lighting). Production should complement the performance, not overwhelm and blind the audience, after-all what’s the point in going to the cinema if you can’t see?
There was a massive Two Door Cinema Club mosh pit, whose jumping up and down didn’t miss a beat. Despite the band’s lack of personality, songs like I Can Talk, Undercover Martyn and the newer Sleep Alone are always going to be crowd-pleasers. The young, all-ages crowd were just stoked to be there and happy to finish with another band that they could sing and dance to.
Review by Harriet Cheney