Monday, December 15, 2014

Music, Its Meaning, and, yeah, a The 1975 Review

The 1975 Enchanted and Entranced Fans at The Starland Ballroom 12/14/14
Photo by Tonianne Bellomo


I swear to all of you, they are not the only band I go to see live; they just decided it was a brilliant idea to be in my neck of the woods quite often in the last six months, and I was not making the Great Kings of Leon Mistake this time (I had the opportunity to see KOL twice with the Secret Machines back in '05 when they were on their Aha Shake Heartbreak Tour, but I only went once and now they're not the best band and their tickets cost more than my life). Oh, that Great Kings of Leon mistake- it's been costing me a serious amount of money on tickets ever since. It's not like it's a bad thing to watch the lovely Manchester lads and I even dragged my little sister to her first general admission concert to catch the December 14 show at Sayreville's Starland Ballroom.

So glad I did.

Matty Healy, 12/14/14
Photo by Tonianne Bellomo


The 1975 were even better Sunday than they were back on December 5. It seems Matty Healy has revived himself a bit (still seemed tired, poor thing, but he's been on the road for forever so I'm not blaming him) and was his chatty, energetic self again. Coming out to a deafening cheer, Healy and co. jumped right into "The City" and then, one of my personal faves, "Milk." They played the same set I saw them with the week before, but it all felt new and fresh, a hard feat to accomplish. Healy is a born showman who has found a balance between chatting with the crowd and performing songs. He also knows how to use the lighting to his benefit.

You know my feelings on this band, and, based on the amount of photos I took this time (1,229, a bit over 200 of which are found here), you can tell I thought they were stellar. I'm not here to gush anymore than I have in the past (NYC 12/5/14 and Baltimore, MD 6/5/14). I'm here to talk about how Healy brought up something that I hadn't really put much thought into before but is rather pertinent to any form of art, particularly one as expressive as music.

If you're a fan of The 1975, you know their music is personal. Healy has often described it as a sort of diary for him. A lot of bands and other artists would describe their body of work as diaries of sorts. Writers, for example, find a sick sense of catharsis when they write loosely about events that they themselves experienced. Healy is no different.
Matty Healy and Adam Hann, 12/14/14
Photo by Tonianne Bellomo


The thing is, though, that sometimes these things that are created lose their original meaning for the artists.

Sunday night, Healy shared that feeling when he was launching into what he calls his favorite song, "Falling for You." He said that they have been on the road for so long and that he's not sure what the songs mean anymore. But he went on to say that we know what they mean, that the fans have the meaning.

I think that he really presented two incredibly interesting ideas that people just don't seem to address when it comes to art.

Sometimes meanings change for the artists. Sometimes, they lose the meaning and can't really place it anymore. Think about it: maybe you a write a note to yourself ages ago in a journal and then come back to it. It doesn't make sense or maybe it means something completely different to you. Art is the same way. Artists grow and change just as any other person does and, therefore, the meaning their art takes for themselves is going to change or become obliterated. I, for one, have a ton of writing that was probably quite meaningful to me when I was in the moment, but some of those meanings have changed and some have even lost all meaning to me.

It's only natural that he's not sure what the meanings of these songs are anymore. They're morphing for him and he's entering a different stage of his life. What I really latched onto, though, was this idea of the fans capturing the meaning. Really, he called the crowd a giant time capsule. In a sense, it is the fans that preserve the meaning like a time capsule of sorts, one that holds onto everything and protects it, even when the original owner is off changing. Savvy? It's a really interesting idea. I mean, fans all have their own interpretations of the works. I'm sure "Me" means something incredibly different to my fifteen year old sister than it does for me, but even those meanings have weight.

What Healy did was put the onus of meaning on the fans. He is giving those songs over to the fans to hold onto, to apply meaning to at their will. Why? Because those songs will never mean the same thing to him as they did when he first wrote them and performed them, but, to us, they will always hold some special meaning. It's a sort of transition of ownership that I really find incredible to think about.

That transition is palpable in the crowd, particularly for the fans not there just to see Healy change his shirt on stage (he came out in a sweater and leather jacket only to change into an open shirt a few songs in; and, let me tell you, my ears are still ringing from all the screams). He is basically handing over the meanings to the crowd and telling them to have them, to take the meanings and make them their own. There's a real connection between The 1975 and the fans and it doesn't feel as disingenuous as it does with a lot of bands I've seen. Healy's incredibly earnest when he puts on his performances and really does want to connect to people in a way that transcends all socially constructed differences.

Healy and co. perfected their performance the other night, keeping the energy going and really driving home that this was a shared experience rather than viewer and performer. It was probably their best performance out of the three times I've seen them and I'm sure they are only going to mature and grow as artists with their upcoming second album.

If you want to check out the photos from Dec. 14, head over to my Flickr page.



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