Last Monday, I had the wonderful honor of witnessing The 1975 perform live for the second time. Since I last saw them at the Club Nokia in December, the crowd had increased by roughly 4,000 people, transforming the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall into a room overflowing with passionate fans; many of whom endured the California heat for multiple days whilst waiting in line for the chance to be up close and personal with the band. Amidst the entrancing lights, enthralling vocals, and mesmerizing dance moves, a The 1975 concert is the epitome of pure ecstasy.
April 18, 2016
I arrived to the venue at 10:30 AM, roughly eight and a half hours before doors opened. To my surprise, over half of the parking lot was already accompanied by fans adorned with umbrellas and blankets to help beat the blazing sun. Joining them, I began to prepare myself for the night I had been anticipating for months. The Shrine neighboring the highly prestigious campus of the University of Southern California made for a convenient bathroom location, as well as the opportunity to witness college life first-hand considering the majority of the audience were adolescent. After several hours of homework and anxious waiting, the doors finally opened to reveal an open floor of possibilities. I made my way to the far left of the stage, as close as I could get which ended up only being about ten rows back. Within minutes, the entire banquet hall became a sea of integrated smiling faces.
Opening for The 1975 was The Japanese House, a dreamy electronic band from the United Kingdom. Being signed to the same record label, Dirty Hit Records, the two bands had become familiar with each other long before touring together. Their debut EP, Pools to Bathe In, was actually co-produced by Matty Healy and George Daniel, providing similar 80’s influenced synthetic beats. Accompanied with fanciful fog and euphoric charisma, The Japanese House successfully won over and prepared the crowd for the upcoming act.
Introduced by their hit single ‘Love Me’ off of the new album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, the boys took stage as the room suddenly became doused in a vibrant pink hue. My heart’s beats fell into sequence with the overwhelming echoes of George’s drums, as I jumped up and down in excitement amongst the various other bodies surrounding me. Healy’s voice rang through the building as thousands of others echoed, united in the name of music.
After singing fan favorites such as ‘Ugh!’, ‘Heart Out’, and ‘Menswear’, the energy was at an all time high. The crowd was especially rambunctious, being the first official show on the North American leg of the tour. People were getting pulled out of the pit left and right, disoriented from dehydration and complete lack of personal space. At one point, Healy had to order the crowd to take three large steps back as precaution to any further casualties. Despite the scare, the venue’s security took complete control of the situation as they helped free people from the crowd and distributed cups of water at an alarming rate.
Prior to performing one of their most intimate songs, ‘Me’, Healy preceded to preach about modern technology and it’s innocent distraction from the present. The entire floor was perpetually illuminated by the glow and flash of cellphones, which I’m admittedly guilty of contributing to. Although I cherish the videos that I did document, I’ll never forget the moments that I wasn’t worrying about keeping a steady hand and instead, was dancing as if my life depended on it.
“Just be here now, for like, five minutes. It’s just to be us and you, no phones. Honestly, the memory of these next five minutes will mean way more than a f***ing video on your phone. This song is about me, I love you.”
Before performing ‘Paris’ for the crowd, time was taken to discuss recent world events and put the American audience into perspective with tragedy-stricken Europe. As a popular advocate for equality and freedom, Healy establishes a personal connection with his fans through his passion for humanity and expression of beliefs. The room’s ebullient energy immediately shifted to reverence, as he began to empathize with the three hundred of those who suffered on the morning of March 22.
“We just toured Europe and it was amazing. But it was kind of weird, and I’m just going to be honest with you, because we like being honest with you. It was weird because the world is a f***ed up place, Europe in particular, is a particularly f***ed up place. We went to Brussels within the week of when all those people blew up that airport, and we do this every night. We do this every night, and it makes you question when it comes under threat, the actual practice of it, it starts to make you really question everything; like why we do it and all these kinds of things- is it superficial and what matters and stuff like that. The fact of the matter is stuff like this…this is as free as it gets, a pop concert. In regards to people’s liberties and the stuff that we have in the world, a pop concert is the most free place in the world. I’ve really realized that, so if we’re gonna be this free, let’s be free in honor of people who just aren’t that free.”
Subsequent to performing quite a lengthy set, the boys expressed their sincere gratitude and exited the stage. The screams continued for several minutes before they re-entered for their encore, singing one of my personal favorites, ‘If I Believe You’. As Matty sang about questioning religion and fulfilling his “God shaped hole”, blinding white lights flashed into the crowd, resembling that as you would see when entering Heaven. Healy’s willingness to share his beliefs and person struggles is exactly what makes The 1975 so identifiable with the substantial amount of fans they possess. Three more iconic songs followed before the night concluded, leaving thousands of distressed fans to fend for themselves in the fight for bathrooms, merchandise, and transportation. Every aspect of the night- from spotting a man passed out on the sidewalk before noon, to indulging in Subway sandwiches as if it was my last meal in days- made for an unforgettable experience.
Matty, George, Adam, Ross- thank you. Thank you for working so viciously to bring your vision and dream to life, along with mine. Thank you for communicating so openly with us; I feel as though I know each of you so thoroughly when truthfully, you’re all so unique and full of depth that would be a privilege to understand. I wish you all the best of luck regarding the continuation of your tour, everyone deserves such a spiritual experience as the one provide- you truly revolutionize every city you visit. Please feel welcome to return anytime you wish; there’s a permanent home in California and my heart that awaits.