Upon hearing the combination of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Two Door Cinema Club, I’ll admit, I was surprised. For one, CYHSY is known for their extremely lo-fi sound and independent self-released material that made them a minor hit in the mid-2000s, while TDCC’s album Tourist History is reminiscent of the European dance-rock of Phoenix and Maximo Park. But the biggest surprise of the night, for better or for worse, came from the opening band Bad Veins.
Bad Veins is a rock duo from Cincinnati who play their blend of power-pop, while also using a reel-to-reel tape player presented in the middle of the stage. Bad Veins has a great sound that differs from other guitar-drum pairings, thanks to Benjamin Davis’ vocals, lyrics and guitar. Drummer Sebastien Schultz gave his all on drums, so much so that I believe I saw part of one of his sticks break off early in the set.
Bad Veins were definitely impressing, when about seven songs in, Benjamin Davis fell off stage, hitting his head on the metal guardrail and knocking himself out, abruptly ending the performance. Schultz and The National’s security came immediately to help Davis, who remained on the floor for about twenty minutes. With the exception of a few arm movements, it was too difficult to tell is Davis was okay as the security prepped for a emergency transport. Thankfully Davis was able to walk off, naturally dazed from the incident, but at least able to walk out with a little aid.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah had to follow this concussion-causing performance, something many bands can’t say. While it was clear that most of the audience was there for Two Door Cinema Club, CYHSY did their best to keep up with audience expectations. Their first song “Satan Said Dance”, is the band’s most dance-ish song, hence the name, and was a powerful way to start off their set.
CYHSY mostly stuck with songs from their self-titled debut, filling their first half with songs like “The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth”, “In This Home On Ice” and “Details of the War”. Halfway through, CYHSY focused on two of the strongest songs from last year’s releaseHysteric, “Same Mistake” and “Maniac”, which seemed more along the lines of what TDCC fans were looking for. Alec Ounsworth and his band ended strongly with two old favorites “Is This Love?” and “Heavy Metal”. While most of the audience who were unfamiliar with the band seemed willing to give them a chance, some people near me actually shouted at the band, “Is THIS the last song?!”, and rudely applauded when they said that this would be their last night on tour with TDCC. Clearly, they weren’t there for lo-fi rock and Nietzsche references.
Two Door Cinema Club came out to a pair of strobe lights flashing and smoke machines working at full capacity. When the four-piece came out, they were met with blinding lights and deafening screams. “Cigarettes in the Theatre” opened their set followed by “Undercover Martyn” and the great harmonies of “Do You Want It All”. Scattered throughout their set, TDCC threw in some new songs from their recently finished sophomore album.
The crowd loved TDCC and their songs have a very likable quality to them, but about halfway through, I started to feel like I had been listening to the same song over and over. This really came through when they performed their new songs, which didn’t seem all that different from their first album Tourist History. There is a deceptive sound to the new material, usually starting off sounding like something new, but then going back to the synth and similar guitar part that fill a majority of their songs. Many of their songs sound very similar; there’s no doubt that it’s fun, but it’s also incredibly repetitive.
Before retreating for their encore, TDCC played their biggest song, “What You Know”, a song I generally like quite a bit, but after hearing the similarities in their songs, it didn’t bring with it the excitement I hoped it would. By the end of their set, I just felt sort of disappointed. The band is clearly talented and has the ability to write the next huge pop song, but the familiar feeling throughout their songs is something that may unfortunately keep the band in a state of stasis.
But at the very least, the audience at The National got a variety of sounds for their Tuesday night: the literally head-smashing rock of Bad Veins, the unique lo-fi sound of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the electro-rock of Two Door Cinema Club, in a night of varying greatness from the three bands.