If you’re anything like me, sometimes hearing one song is enough to get you into an artist.
The first time I heard The 1975‘s heavy-hearted slow jam “Somebody Else,” with its memorable piano riffs and funky beats, I couldn’t stop. “So I heard you found somebody else,” frontman Matt Healy half-whispers.
The song finds Healy laying himself bare, something different from the band’s familiar upbeat glitzy pop and eccentric showmanship. Healy continues, “No I don’t want your body, but I hate to think about you with somebody else,” depicting the hauntingly painful moment that a lost love can bring.
But The 1975 catalogue brings a lot more than the average candy pop you’d expect from radio hits such as “Chocolate.” Their live show, with bold neon lights and rectangular blocks amidst city skylines and projections, was big, bold and impressive — and they had the music to match.
Sharp-edged pop with irresistible hooks; carefully constructed synths and electronic drumbeats among analog instruments; the frontman’s high-pitched boy band voice that isn’t afraid to choke a bit; and a live saxophonist throwing down solos throughout musical interludes. Talk about impressive electronic-synth gone arena rock.
When the band arrived to their sold-out show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco last Friday, the line was endless. Young teens and millennials (and their mothers) lined up early in the day to get as close to Healy and the band as they could. The line circled around Civic Center Park numerous times. Many were donning 1975 memorabilia and tees with the familiar neon title. Safe to say, I questioned how I found myself in a line like that, especially when I was just familiarizing myself with the craze fans have for this band.
After a set played by fellow Londoners Colouring, with their mellowed-out indie-alternative sound and electronic tunes, followed by a throwback to a straight ’80s movie set by Pale Waves, The 1975 opened with the colorful David Bowie-inspired track “Love Me,” the opening song to their 2016 follow-up album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it.
The album, with its ’80s influenced beats, guitar riffs and varying instruments at play, has plummeted the band into mainstream and international success. It’s no surprise that they’re selling out shows across the US, because with moments of lucid instrumental experimentation, floating synths and slower ballads (and frontman Healy’s eccentric swagger of a rockstar meets the funkiness of Michael Jackson), their show was bigger and better (and different) from a lot of pop today.
Everyone seemed to be mouthing back words to sweeter songs such as “A Change Of Heart” and “Robbers.” In an especially beautiful moment where rainbow hues were shone throughout the auditorium, rainbow-colored screens twinkled on phones held up by fans on both the floor and upstairs level. Standing in the middle of it all felt like you were floating in a sky of lights, as the band sang their song “Loving Someone.”
Although the show felt like a long night of dizzying lights and pop-funk inspired synths to songs I didn’t know, the impressive lights and big sound The 1975 was able to create impressed. George Daniel’s flashy drum hits against Adam Hann’s striking guitar riffs and Ross MacDonald’s steady bass kept the room moving. An added saxophonist and keyboardist made the six-piece band put on an exciting show. The 1975 may be experimenting with pop-funk and highly-produced electronics, its clear their knack for pop is taking the world by storm.
The 1975's album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (2016) sold through Interscope Records is available to purchase on Amazon, as well as their debut self-titled album The 1975 (2013). Catch them live on tour this year (tour dates).