The “indie-pop” genre often conjures images of an emaciated singer in an ugly sweatshirt, singing sugary pop songs in an off-kilter voice. That annoying Hyundai Sonata commercial featuring Pomplamoose’s (yes, that’s their name) take on “Jingle Bells” encapsulates the good and bad aspects of the genre: it is original, sometimes annoying and altogether harmless.
Then there are Tokyo Police Club and Two Door Cinema Club: two bands that craft immaculate pop songs with some serious backbone, injecting vigor into a relatively bland genre.
The two groups brought their guitar-centric tunes to a sold out crowd at New York’s Terminal 5, co-headlining the festival of the music tracking website, Last.fm.
Two Door Cinema Club absolutely stole the show. They were loud, energetic and extremely grateful to perform in a venue where hundreds of fans incessantly bounced to their music. They performed every track on their only full-length, “Tourist History” as well as a couple of new songs and b-sides. Their show left enormous expectations for Tokyo Police Club to meet and, unfortunately, the band never measured up to the task.
Tokyo Police Club’s set was riddled with sound problems. Terminal 5, despite its aesthetic inner-design, is notorious for its unimpressive acoustics; however, after a near-perfect set from TDCC, it is hard to fault anyone but the band.
The opening song “Favorite Colour” never capitalized on its loud/quiet dynamics, as the electric guitar sounded isolated (and, at times, even nonexistent), while the first third of the vocals were nearly inaudible.
Despite a set that mixed old and new songs, and even a happy birthday singalong to lead singer Dave Monks, the band never could match the sound or energy of Two Door Cinema Club. Even the extremely catchy “Tessellate” failed to stick.
By the time the low guitar volume was fixed, the show seemed already lost: “Favourite Food” and “Bambi” sounded more like the explosive sound TPC is known for, but the crowd’s attention had already wandered. However, by the end of the show, after booming performances of “Breakneck Speed” and “Your English Is Good,” the group had salvaged their set, although they remained a mere afterthought to TDCC.
Normally, a show where only one of the three highly anticipated performances leaves an impact would be a letdown, however, Two Door Cinema Club achieved something rare on the stage, capturing those brief, transcendent moments that makes trekking to New York through the snow worthwhile. For less than an hour, I was speechless, thoughtless and, simply, having fun. Who could ask for more?
Kevin Stevens can be reached at email@example.com.