Staring out the window of a double-decker bus, we drove along the streets of Nyanga/Philipi, a bus-load of middle-class Capetonians eager to get a gander at the secret venue. We could have peeped at our Twitter feeds to see what the early birds were saying, but the surprise turned out to be well worth the wait: Two Door Cinema Club was to entertain us at a rundown industrial site on the skirts of a township.
A dilapidated industrial warehouse in writing doesn't sound all that amazing. The truth is that you had to be there to experience the raw beauty of it for yourself. In retrospect, I'm not sure what had people more thrilled, the venue or the headline act - both were well worth the hype. Ever since the 5 Gum SA FB app went live in mid-Feb, the online sphere went ape-shit with anticipation; last weekend was the culmination of it all.
I'm afraid, however, this was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience put together by 5 Gum. According to Jason Cederwall, marketing manager of Wrigley South Africa: "5 Gum won't have an experience at the same venue twice. We will continue to find venues that outdo our previous ones and bring a new experience to our consumers."
South African townships usually have a bad rep for violence and crime, but driving through Nyanga it was rather serene. Apart from the curious looks some cast at the fleet of Golden Arrow buses to-ing and fro-ing through their community, the locals were going about their daily business, the sun slowly setting on what must have been a bustling Saturday.
"There are some misconceptions about the Philipi/Nyanga area. This venue is one of the most beautiful that we have scouted around SA and the feedback we have received online has been incredibly beneficial for the PR of the area. We hope that more brands have the vision to host events here to ensure that the community receives the positive financial knock-on effects associated with international gigs," said Cederwall.
World domination, check
Not even the media were privy to the venue, but in a press conference a few hours before the show, the band had us salivating: "It's fucken nuts; you're in for a treat. Yeah, probably the best place we're ever gonna play," said Kevin Baird (bass, backing vocals) and Alex Trimble (vocals, rhythm guitar, beats, synths) of TDCC.
TDCC have played Glastonbury, Coachella, Lollapalooza, and headlined the NME Awards Tour 2012 after being nominated for Best Live Band in this year's awards. What brings them to SA? Well, like many bands, world domination is on their list of things to do.
"We always had it in our heads, from the start, that we wanted to conquer the world - and Africa is the only continent that we've never played in, besides Antarctica, which is pretty much unplayable. We just want to go everywhere, do everything, see everything, play everywhere. This was a big goal on our list that we wanted to tick off," said Trimble.
Well, they certainly came, saw and conquered; in Jozi, they played to more than 5000 people at the Nasrec Expo Centre, and in Cape Town 3000 people ventured out to watch the indie electro-pop band perform. All the way back, I could just about get a glimpse of them on stage, but the sound and energy permeated the crowd. Their dance beats had us frolicking till the very end and then some into the encore. They didn't always have a large following, though; they actually started off playing experimental rock/teenage angst music that, according to the band, didn't quite inspire people. Eventually their tastes broadened to a combination of pop, dance and folk, among other genres.
"We just thought, wouldn't it be really cool if we could play music and watch people dance in front of us? We started experimenting with drum machines and that kind of electronic influence and, because of the different music that we were then listening to, we started to write more pop-orientated songs and all of that came together, and that became TDCC pretty quickly," said Trimble.
The band was blown away by the overwhelming response from South African fans. After having to build a foundation on other continents through live performances, they'd expected to do the same here. "It's just kind of unbelievable because the biggest headline show we did in the UK was Brixton Academy a couple of weeks ago and that was about 5000 people. To play to the same number of people in Johannesburg as we did in London, is just hard to calculate really," said Trimble.
New album, more touring
Two Door Cinema Club are currently in Los Angeles recording their next album, which will hopefully be done within the next two months. The band will then be heading off for a tour of the US. Will they be heading our way again?
"Judging by last night's show (Joburg), I felt almost stupid in a way, that we'd never come here before. I felt like, how have we missed out on this for so long. The second we stepped on stage, I was thinking of the next possible moment when we could come back and play more shows here," said Trimble.
South Africa, I'm sure, will be eager to welcome these Irish lads back within our borders anytime. All in all it was a delightful #5GumExperience.
Two Door Cinema Club are Alex Trimble, Kevin Baird and Sam Halliday (lead guitar, backing vocals).
Events | 5 Gum Experience: Two Door Cinema Club. from we-are-awesome on Vimeo.All images by Charlie Sperring