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SWAGGER, NOT STYLE

The worldwide headquarters and hindquarters of freelance writer Chris Klimek

Live Last Night: Two Door Cinema Club at the 9:30 Club

Chris Klimek

The Belfast-bred dance-rock trio Two Door Cinema Club has been around for less time than it takes Radiohead to make an album now, and its members are barely old enough to drink at the 9:30 Club. But the group’s lean, efficient set there last night demonstrated that for all their youthful charm and enthusiasm, as songwriters and performers both, they’re confident, more-than-competent professionals. Originality comes harder, but what band didn’t begin their career with a batch of tunes derivative of the bands they like? “This song is off our debut rec-chord, Tourist History" frontman Alex Trimble, murmured before lighting into one of the set’s dozen-or-so fungible but tough-to-resist disco confections. Most of them were, though at least one, “Handshake”, was new.

Those songs, all caffeinated tempos and jagged angles, are more danceable than memorable, rarely occupying your speakers or your consciousness for longer than three-minutes-thirty, but the payoff is immediate -- their attenuated guitar lines and hyperactive rhythms don’t need a half-dozen spins to reveal themselves. They may remind you, according to your age/sonic pedigree/quantity of Four Loko intake, variously of Manic Street Preachers or Modest Mouse, or Broken Social Scene, if you took one of the latter’s six-minute walkabouts crumpled into a three-minute ball. Trimble’s reedy vocals, especially, can make his band sounds like the farm team for Phoenix, the French band they’ve opened for and remixed.

The core trio expanded their lineup with a drummer who replicated the superball rhythms of Tourist History tracks like “Do You Want It All” and “What You Know” with lockstep accuracy. Performing in casual-Friday button downs and jeans (Trimble and guitarist Sam Halliday) and a greasy wife-beater (bassist Kevin Baird) in front of an array of myth-building backlight, the band proved that making a crowd move is now within their reach. Another album or two and we’ll see if they can move them.

A chopped-up version of this review appeared on the Washington Post's Click Track blog and also in the paper-paper.