There’s something of a sticky indie disco atmosphere rising from the crowd waiting at the Main Stage East for Two Door Cinema Club’s sunset slot at Reading Festival 2021. You have to duck and dive through mazes of punters hastily swigging from poorly camouflaged hip-flasks (or in one fan’s case, a bottle of makeup remover) and flying pints to even catch a glimpse of the Northern Irish trio.
And there’s sweat, buckets of it. From the moment that frontman Alex Trimble triggers opener ‘I Can Talk’s nimble guitar riff, the temperature rises as a result of the series of the limbs-flailing euphoria that emerges. It’s easy to forget that it’s been a whopping 11 years since the track’s parent album, ‘Tourist History’, entered the world. Here is a band who understand that they are part of a bigger story; much like their not-quite-indie-landfill comrades The Wombats – who are simultaneously commanding the Main Stage West at the other end of the site – Two Door are still capable of garnering serious attention at festivals where their genre contemporaries would not even get a look-in anymore.
You can see why people are still paying attention. Tonight’s hour-long setlist is tight and familiar, to the point that the band can afford to shuffle it around and leave a handful of whoppers out. This time, ‘Cigarettes In The Theatre’ makes way for riveting debut album track ‘Eat That Up, It’s Good For You’. Later, with the tempo slightly more subdued compared to the earlier work, the fact that skittering synth-pop material from 2019’s middling ‘False Alarm’ holds its own alongside past glories is never less than impressive; showing off their musicianship with the addition of a sampler, it seems that they are finding clever new ways to roll out the hits. Two Door’s propulsive hooks really deliver, though, when they segue into ‘Sun’ and ‘What You Know’ for a dizzyingly uplifting climax.
Frustratingly, the band choose to waste what could have been an opportunity to air new music or past deep cuts to the biggest crowds that they’ll meet this summer. But when you see what hearing these seminal indie anthems live means to a new, committed generation of TDCC fans, maybe just shutting up and playing the hits will do just fine.
Check back at NME all weekend for more reviews, news, interviews, photos and more from Reading & Leeds 2021.