Droves upon droves of rain soaked, choker wearing, mascara-running teens descended upon the Roy Wilkins Auditorium on Wednesday night for The 1975. Over the past couple years, The 1975 have risen to god status as the kings of teen, moody pop. “Do you have a ticket?” a man said to me outside the Roy Wilkins. “I do actually, sorry!” I replied. “Crap, I’m trying to sell this. My daughter won some meet and greet with the band so now I’m just trying to get rid of this,” the dad said with a sense of both frustration and confusion in his voice. “Don’t these guys have like a cult following?” he asked. “That is definitely one way to put it,” I said before making my way in to brave the masses waiting to make their way into the Roy Wilkins Auditorium around 7:30 pm. Well crop top wearing, obsessively Snapchat taking, hormone-fueled teen girls were in the majority last night, there was quite the mix waiting in that dreaded line. Moms who got dragged along, boyfriends who got dragged along, dads who got dragged along, well you get the idea.
Opening up the evening was London’s Colouring. Though the crowd was clearly there for The 1975 they definitely warmed to the electro sounds of the band. Their infectiously catching In Motion was a stand out from the set. Polished from top to the bottom of their set, with air-tight production Colouring is poised for big things.Colouring were followed on stage by Manchester, England based Pale Waves. Like the first opener there was really no mention of the openers anywhere online. Ahead of the show I gave a quick scour of Twitter, Facebook, band’s page, venue’s page and still no mention of the opener. I found this rather odd as both Colouring and Pales Waves were the perfect openers for The 1975. The four piece Pale Waves commanded the nearly sold out Roy Wilkins like headliners themselves. They seemed no strangers to the massive auditorium, massive stage, massive lights and a massive crowd. A standout from their set was of-course There’s A Honey, which was produced by The 1975’s Matty Healy and George Daniel, shortly after signing to The 1975’s label Dirty Hit. “I don’t know what’s going on over here, it’s like a dance class or something,” frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie said pointing to section just right of center stage which was dancing and jumping along to every song. Pale Wave’s set though not life changing was incredibly solid. I expect we’ll be seeing this four-piece on their own headlining tour very soon. As Pale Waves set ended and the massive white lights hanging from the tress system came up, the anticipation in Roy Wilkins continued to mount for the 1975. Teens excitedly chatted with one another, sneaking in a few (dozen) more snapchats. Because if you don’t snapchat a concert, did it even really happen? Right around 9:00 pm, an extended version of The 1975 (the opening track to both of The 1975’s albums) played. As the white blinding white lights dimmed, the energy continued to build. Then with the flash of a light The 1975 took to the stage. They were greeted with screams at a decibel that can only be described as other-worldy. I am too young to have ever seen The Beatles or The Rolling Stones and too old for One Direction, but I have to imagine the screams for those bands sounded pretty similar to what I heard last night.
The 1975 took their places on the stage that drew influences from both of their album covers – geometric staging, clean lines, washed out lights. Half of the band took their places in between rectangular lights that almost reminded me of Hollywood Squares or The Brady Bunch intro – each member had their square. The lights shifted from white to pink as The 1975 launched into the first half of their set which included hits such Love Me and Ugh! Both off of their sophomore album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it.
“Yo, yo, yo, we’re The 1975. This is like our greatest hits set,” frontman Matt Healy drawled through his thick English accent before launching into The City off their debut self-titled album. The rest of the evening would be the perfect, bewitching concoction of both new and old tracks from The 1975. A magical elixir for those drunk on that magical teenage angst. There is really no way not to bop and dance along
Once The 1975 was deep into their set, Healy finally took a break to greet the crowd. “Welcome to the show, thank you so much for coming!” Healy said which was greeted by screams. “Have you had a good day? Hello upstairs, how are you!” he said pointing to the packed balcony. Then he launched into what was his only monologue from the whole evening. “This is called crowd work, it’s what people do sometimes. When they’re like how are you doing, and obviously you’re doing good, you’re here. So like, let’s cut the bullshit. And even the reach out I do. Like you can’t touch me. So why do we do that? You’re reaching something, something tangible. So if you’re reaching to connect with something let’s do it properly,” Healy went on which was again greeted by screams. “Shut up, no, I’m serious. Let’s not do what I do every moment of my life: when I see something even remotely interesting and feel the need to document in and validate my experience through sharing it with others. Let’s just be people in a room. Especially the one person who is on FaceTime, because they should have just bought a ticket. So for the next three minutes, put your phone away. Because a memory is better than a fucking video on your phone, I promise you,” Healy said as the lights faded to orange and red and the band began Me. The crowd obliged and the glow of iPhones disappeared and everyone just listened. The 1975 forced their iPhone addicted fans to just be present. Sure, I hate that bands even need to do this, but it was a special moment. It was probably the first time in the past what, five/ten years that I have been to a concert that I am not looking past iPhones and flashing lights.
As I was undoubtedly surrounded by a mostly under-19 crowd, there was something so refreshing about the pure, unabashed love these fans have for The 1975. I can’t even remember how many shows I’ve been too where people just stand arms crossed, PBR in hand, trying to act too cool to dance. But for fan of The 1975, they were there to dance, to scream, to sing along to song after song – what a concert ought to be once in awhile. As a moody post grad I’m guilty of my own cynical, “the-world-is-basically-screwed” angst and The 1975 (and their fans) pulled me out of that last night, even if just for a couple hours. It was a reminder sometimes a concert just needs to be fun, sometimes you just need to dance with your friends and for one goddamn minute stop trying to be cool and put together.
Set List: The 1975 / Love Me / Ugh! / Heart Out / A Change of Heart / The City / An Encounter / Robbers / Loving Someone / She’s American / She Lays Down / Somebody Else / Me / You / fallingforyou / Girls / Sex / If I Believe You / Chocolate / The Sound