Performing a two-night set at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, one thing was made perfectly clear: The 1975 sure knows how to throw a party.
The spellbinding Brit pop band dazzled in a synth-wave to blow the hipster beanies right off the audience. With an alternative pop style, the band made its presence well-known before actually coming on stage. Minutes before the lights went out, soft piano music played over the blaring speakers, yet the crowd continued to talk without seeming to notice. It was only when the piano met an unnerving distortion that the crowd got the hint — the lights dipped out in flickers before falling into blackness to start the set with a dramatic edge.
Lead singer Matty Healy ran onstage with abounding energy, maintaining a goofy stage personality to contrast with the heavy, oversized grey suit he was sporting. He ran from side to side greeting audience members and beginning the night with “Give Yourself A Try” off of the band’s newest release, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships.
This song was accompanied by beautiful visuals plastered over the towering screens behind and to the sides of the stage. These light shows carried on throughout the entire show, pairing the tone of the song with the background display to create a full visual, sonic and physical experience for audience members taking the music in and letting out energy in a sea of dancing.
Healy was constantly dancing with the audience, especially in the song “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME.” The upbeat performance was full of smooth side steps and punchy choreography from the band’s two talented onstage dancers, their movements framing Healy and other members for the entirety of the show. Their stamina was impressive, but even more impressive was their ability to translate the sound into a physical form, engaging the meaning with their expression.
The 1975 tends to keep fans on their toes while pushing expectations of live performances, and this was achieved with the unique use of a stage-length treadmill as part of their show. While singing “Sincerity Is Scary,” Healy appeared onstage with a hat and backpack reflective of those worn in the music video for the song. In the music video the background seems to move while he walks in place, and the band recreated that effect with the treadmill.
If there’s anything fans could pull from this concert, it’s this: Matty Healy gives his all for every performance, but he also doesn’t give a single fuck — in a cool way, of course. Taking a drag from his cigarette, Healy transitioned into a performance of “A Change of Heart.” He really leaned into the treadmill with this song, letting out his inner child through his natural performance vein.
The set wasn’t all newer songs, however. Leaning into older, more emotive songs like “Robbers,” the band was able to change the mood while still maintaining the same amount of energy. During “Fallingforyou,” the lyrics “I don’t want to be your friend / I want to kiss your neck” sent the audience members into spirals, shouting the words as if their lives depended on it and building magic in just a few seconds.
The magic was quickly broken, however, by an audience member who decided to completely strip in the middle of The 1975’s set. Healy immediately brought attention to the situation, saying, “Oh he’s actually naked, that’s kind of hilarious. Actually, it’s not — it’s not funny, this is a good time to say this: don’t do drugs guys.” A path was cleared for the man to be escorted out, to which Healy said, “You can’t get naked around young women, that’s not cool man. You really shouldn’t need reminding.”
Nothing could ruin this night thankfully, since the next song performed was an incredible performance of “I Like America & America Likes Me.” Flashing messages spread across the screen, repeating the lyrics being sung to reinforce their meanings. Healy leaned fully into this performance — anyone watching could tell this song is important to this band, commanding the entire audience to listen.
At the end of the show, the band started “Sex,” but cut it off to ask if the crowd was really ready yet. Readiness was definitely in question, considering the last songs of the night were full of energy, sending people from corner to corner jumping and raving. When it seemed like the band was really done for good, Healy came back with, “One more time with feeling, San Francisco,” in a wild performance of “The Sound.”
The 1975 brought some of the most energy, charm and originality any performer has graced the Bay Area with in a long time. The next album may not be coming through until this summer, but the Bay is surely ready for another two-night performance very soon.