Besides getting recognized by three people as the “girl with all the glitter” from a recent Hippo Campus concert, seeing the 1975 at Roy Wilkins Auditorium last night was exactly what I expected it to be. I remember first hearing about them from some cool girls in high school, but I didn’t love their first single “Chocolate,” so I just never got into them — which is surprising, considering I was the Indie Pop Queen™ back then.
Over the past few years, though, the English indie-pop band have completely taken the alternative music scene by storm, spilling into the mainstream radio world with their latest synth-pop album dense with 80s synth-pop influences, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (a.k.a. ILIWYSFYASBYSUOI).
The first openers, Colouring, are another British band and this tour is their first time in America. They seemed to be well received by the gathering crowd in St. Paul. Colouring’s electro-pop is infused with club beats that fit in well on this tour, and “About You” had the folks on the floor dancing at the end of their set.
A lot of the crowd seemed to think that Pale Waves, the second opener, were in fact 1975 when they walked on stage. The Manchester band recently signed to the same label as the 1975, Dirty Hit, and their capital-P Pop tunes are also heavy on the ’80s influences. Mid-set, some fans on the floor began copying the frantic, dancing arm movements of a very tall man standing in the front row, inspiring lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie to say, “I love what’s going on over here. It’s like a dance class or something!” She then jumped into Pale Waves’ last song, “There’s a Honey.”
Finally, the moment everyone in the building had been waiting for: the 1975 appeared. I haven’t encountered that much shrieking since I chaperoned my cousins to the Justin Bieber concert last year. Teen girls know what they’re talking about when it comes to musical interests, and they’re what made the 1975 as popular as they are today.
The band started straight off with “Love Me,” a hit off ILIWYSFYASBYSUOI. Lead singer Matty Healy wore a pair of platform boots reminiscent of the Purple One, and danced around in his own signature, noticeably-awkward fashion. Up until this point I hadn’t noticed any vaping, but by two songs in, the plumes were aplenty. By the fourth song, “Change of Heart,” Healy had a cigarette and mic in one hand, and grabbed a bouquet of roses from a girl in the front row just as a bra came flying in from the opposite direction.
Crowd favorites tended to be the more upbeat tracks from their first, self-titled album: “The City,” “So American,” and “Robbers,” the latter of which inspired a giant singalong. Mid-set, the rest of the band left as Healy took center stage with an acoustic guitar to play the simple and beloved “She Lays Down,” which I really enjoyed.
After some banter on crowd work, Healy said “let’s cut the bulls–t” and asked for everyone to put their phones away, even calling out one fan in the front row who had been streaming nearly the entire show. They played a few songs that brought the energy down a little, but the band finished out the set strong by playing two fan favorites, and some of my own favorites, off their first album back-to-back: “Girls” and “Sex,” complete with strobe lights and a dramatic, drawn-out, concluding crash.
The 1975 came back for a three-song encore starting with the introspective “If I Believed You,” which is a stark contrast to the heavy ’80s synth-pop sound that colors the hits off ILIWYSFYASBYSUOI exhibit, with these beautiful choral voices behind it that only added to the production. “Chocolate” had a spot in this encore set, and while I still don’t love it, I can completely understand why others do, and how this fandom has only grown since this song’s release.
Closing out the night, Healy asked the crowd to jump when the band played “The Sound,” and everyone did so eagerly. It was a really cool thing to watch everyone jumping: it made the venue look much smaller, yet larger at the same time. I’m still trying to figure out how that can be, but I think the same can be said for the band itself. Thanks to the 1975 for an entertaining night. You are so loved.
Writer Maia Jacobson is a student at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Photographer Emma Roden attends Normandale Community College.