‘The 1975’ concert review
By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
British indie rockers The 1975 made a Vancouver stop at UBC’s Thunderbird Arena on April 26 on their tour promoting their newest album A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships.
Perhaps the most striking part of the show was the visuals. Three large rectangles were positioned on the left, centre, and right side to complement the main screen’s visuals. Colourful displays, music videos, and other ambient scenes were presented behind the band.
They played an emotionally evocative acoustic performance of “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes),” which had many audience members around me in tears. Besides the occasional Snapchat or flashlight, most people had their phones away. It reminded me of their first concert at Thunderbird Arena because at some point during that show, lead singer Matty Healy instructed everyone to put their phone away and simply enjoy the song fully present and in the moment. This time it didn’t seem like he had to because the crowd was far too busy dancing and singing along to bother much with their electronics.
A major disappointment I had with this show was that the band did not incorporate one of their most famous songs—“Girls”—into the setlist. They had included it in all of their prior Vancouver shows and it is understandable that playing a major hit nearly every single day of your life would be annoying—but it had to be disappointing for a fan who couldn’t make it out to their old shows to pay money and not hear “Girls” live. I would be frustrated, anyway. (Think: Panic! At the Disco not playing “I Write Sins,” it’s almost unbelievable.)
The best performance, however, had to be “Love It If We Made It.” The energy of both crowd and band just shot up. The visuals were the best of the night—the music video was shown along with lyrics paired with an all-around very cool light show. Healy described song itself as “a gem of hope amongst all of the rubble” in a video with Genius, regarding the societal issues brought up in the song. It touches on the prison system that preys on young black people, factual truths being misinterpreted for political gain, even referencing the Syrian refugee crisis and more, with these issues pulled together by the hook: “Modernity has failed us.” There was something intimate about dancing to the upbeat song among hundreds of other people when the song is about such dark themes. The 1975 have always created beautiful philosophical journeys for their listeners and this piece’s hopeful chorus is extremely strong.
At some point in the concert, the frontman began to simply talk to the audience. Healy sounded morose as he said, “I am exhausted, and I have nothing funny to say.” Typically, their shows are filled with jubilant stories and laughter, but then again, Healy was noticeably intoxicated at their old shows.
A lot of their new album focuses on a common theme that runs through The 1975’s discography, which is Healy’s recovery from heroin addiction. In the song “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” he sings, “All I do is sit and drink without you. If I choose then I lose,” meaning that without heroin, all he does is drink alcohol. If he chooses between alcohol and heroin, he loses either way because both are severely harmful substances with negative consequences. His dismal stage presence may be a by-product of his journey to sobriety.
Healy’s lack of energy didn’t displace the crowd much, though, as everyone still spent the night cheering and dancing to the well-staged show. One can only hope he finds joy as the rest of their tour continues.