The deck doesn't make sense here either
by Kelly Tyra
I’ll admit this from the get-go, I’m a bit of a fan girl when it comes to The 1975. Maybe that’s a side effect of studying abroad in the band’s native country, England, or the fact that all of them are pretty damn cute. But above all, my love for the band stems from a pure and simple love of the music they make. The group released their sophomore album I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (I know) when I was in London this February. You may have read News Co-Editor Luis Gómez’s review in the Earwax section of the paper. He didn’t love it. Luckily, I love him so we agree to disagree.
With such an audacious title it’s immediately clear that this group likes to operate outside the confines of the modern music world. Front man, Matty Healy, has repeatedly said the band tries to create music in the same way they consume music. In practice this method produced a record that is genre bending and much more dynamic than the music of a traditional pop group. While The 1975 were characterized as an alt-rock band after the release of their first album The 1975 in 2013, they very much consider themselves a postmodern pop band. Their opinions on the new age popular music scene are evident in their lyrics which are ripe with self-awareness. On “Love Me” Matty serenades his commentary to the beat of the bass, “You look famous let’s be friends and portray we possess something important.” These observations about life as a modern day pop star litter the album, a true reflection of the rapid change in lifestyle the band has experienced. However, the album also pays tribute to their first self-titled album lyrically and stylistically keeping longtime fans of the band, of which there are hundreds of thousands, engaged and excited about the new direction and sound of the Manchester pop group.
The band is constantly on the road meeting these fans and gaining more. They have one of the most aggressive tour schedules in modern music. In fact, The 1975 have played more gigs in a year than any other band since 2010. You may have seen them kick-off their American tour at The Meadows Festival this October. I was definitely there repping the band with The 1975 hat my little sister (a super fan in her own right) gave me and singing along to every song with the majority of the crowd. I even had a chance to talk with them backstage after Kanye’s set, but that’s a story for another article. Or maybe my memoir. We’ll see.
I was lucky enough to score some general admission floor tickets for the band’s show in Uncasville, CT early this month. My little sister and I carted our butts up to the Mohegan Sun Casino for her first 1975 concert and my third. It’s hard to say who was more excited but considering we waited online with hundreds of other fans for a few hours before doors even opened to get a good spot, it’s clear that our dedication is not uncommon amongst the growing fan base. Some lined up as early as 9AM for 8PM doors to get as close as possible to the stage. The fan base is mostly teenage to young adult girls, not surprising considering the history of hot British boy bands in America. However, the band supports their female fan base in an atypical way. Healy has frequently said the group are proud feminists. During their Tumblr answertime the group said the most important life lesson they have to tell the kids they see every night on tour is that “the empowerment of women is the most important thing - for everything. The progression of everything necessary and positive.” Come on, how am I not supposed to love them?
Their commitment to this goal of female empowerment is evident in the way they present themselves in interviews, online, and on tour. The band is constantly promoting up-and-coming female artists by inviting them to open their shows. When I saw them in London at the O2 arena, Amber Bain’s band The Japanese House was touring with the boys. This time around 070 Shake, a female lead hip-hop collective opened the show with enthusiasm and spunk to spare. (Check out “Trust Nobody” if you’re into that IDGAF trap beat vibe.) After the openers left the stage, the crowd shifted with anticipation as The 1975’s trusty road team prepped the stage for the main event. As soon as the band took the stage, everyone on the packed floor rushed forward. Heat, pushing, and loud screams are nothing new for seasoned fans who’ve seen the band before. Newcomers, like my little sister, are often a bit overwhelmed. However, when these guys start to play, you forget where you are and how you feel. By the hook of the first song, the stony faced fifteen-year-old was already sobbing from excitement. (Oh, to be young!) The crowd recorded on their phones as Matty, guitarist Adam, bassist Ross, and drummer George Daniel powered through their set list playing fan favorites from their old album like guitar powered “Sex” and radio hit “Chocolate” as well as jams from the new album like poppy-boppy “UGH!” and stadium shaker “This Must Be My Dream.”
In the middle of the show, Matty took some time to comment on the upcoming US election from the stand point of a UK youth destined to deal with the aftermath of Brexit saying: “We’re not here to say fuck Donald Trump but the fact of the matter is what we thought in our country was that older people were going to do the right thing and that didn’t happen. So everyone who didn’t vote rightfully felt like fucking idiots. And every single night we see loads of young, liberal compassionate people and all we’re saying is you can’t be complacent. You have to vote…but don’t vote for Donald Trump because he’s a cunt.”
After the cheers died down, the band launched into one of their more politicized tunes, “Loving Someone.” The song, with its almost haunting refrain, has turned into a type of LGBT anthem since its release. The poetic lyrics really speak to the plight of the queer community and criticizes the media for its systematic suppression, “who're you gonna buy up next? Just keep hold of their necks and keep selling them sex. It’s better if we keep them perplexed, it's better if we make them want the opposite sex.” After the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub in June, the band lit up their stage at their next show with the colors of the rainbow flag and dedicated the song to those who lost their lives in the attack. [Post-election update: The band was in NYC the night of the election and played Washington, D.C. the night after. The same lighting was used to show support at the D.C. show.]
Lighting has long been an integral part of the band’s live show. In fact, the band was awarded the most prestigious lighting prize, an Aytron Award, for their stage lighting earlier this year. Healy, who collaborated with Tobias G. Rylander to create the light set, has said he wants the show lights to appear as dreamy and ethereal as a James Turrell art exhibition. The lighting absolutely adds to the experience of the show. It informs and interacts with each number the band busts out in a different way and has only grown more intricate and beautiful with the addition of new songs to the set list like instrumental “Please Be Naked” and moody, muted “Lostmyhead.”
Even though this was my third 1975 concert, the band’s commitment to constant improvement and innovation has made every single show distinctly memorable. Even those who aren’t fans of the band can appreciate the group’s commitment to their craft. It is evident in every arena they occupy on tour and every song they release. It is almost impossible to separate the music from the people that make up this band, they live and breathe The 1975. Such commitment will guide them on to bigger, better, bolder things in the future. No doubt about it.