Two Door Cinema Club at ACL: Sweet, empty calories

Opening a new can of tennis balls. Walking outside to find out you need a light jacket. Two Door Cinema Club’s Saturday night set at Austin City Limits Music Festival. All pleasant! But you’ll forget how good you felt within a few hours.

Two Door Cinema Club perform on the opening weekend of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park Oct. 1. 10/01/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Two Door Cinema Club perform on the opening weekend of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park Oct. 1. 10/01/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The Irish dance-rockers presided over a barrage of strobe lights and a row of blinking video towers, ably playing agreeable tunes that had people dancing more than any other ACL Fest show I’ve seen this year. It reminded me of Phoenix’s similarly illuminated Zilker Park discotheque from 2013. But despite the fun, easy danceability, the whole show felt hollow.

All the ingredients were there for a delicacy. “Undercover Martyn” bounded with the band’s familiar rubber guitar bounce. “Something Good Can Work” was a strutting, disco power move. Even “Changing of the Seasons,” one of Two Door Cinema Club’s catchiest hits, sounded as good as the record. But something held the set back. That was the band, who seemed unconnected from the joy their songs sparked in the impressive Cirrus Logic stage crowd.

Two Door Cinema Club perform on the opening weekend of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park Oct. 1. 10/01/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Two Door Cinema Club perform on the opening weekend of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park Oct. 1. 10/01/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Frontman Alex Trimble did his job on the vocal front, though his falsetto was less “Timberlake sexy” than it was “Mickey Mouse in a headlock.” Dressed like Tom Petty down to every last leather fringe, the singer remained oddly unmoved by his band’s own rhythms — and at times, downright stoic.

The band’s lyrics are, at their best, quite relatable:

“And I’ve worn out all the reasons
To keep on knocking at your door
Could be the changing of the seasons
But I don’t love you anymore”

Resonant stuff! But as delivered, the words rang hollow from an expressionless, placid band that betrayed little synchronization to those emotions. Two Door Cinema put on a sweet show and gave weary fest-goers a chance to shake their weariness away. But like sugar, it burned off quick.

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