Saturday, December 6, 2014

The 1975 Creates Worlds and Conquers NYC

Cloud of Cameras at Terminal 5
(all photos by Tonianne Bellomo)

    Oh, yes, there was a cloud of cameras and phones hovering above the crowd at Terminal 5 last night, December 5th, for The 1975's second night in New York. Granted, it was infuriating when I was trying to get shots for the blog but, no matter, I stuck my camera in between arms and hands to get a few shots for you (try 717, 157 of which are on a Flickr account for your perusal). The 1975 have created quite a cult following and, while the majority of the fans in the crowd last night were probably no older than seventeen, the band has a broad fan base ranging from the assumed demographic (14-18) to even people in their fifties. 

  This was the second time I've seen the band and I'm heading over to Jersey next Sunday to catch them at the Starland. They've earned my respect for not only their showmanship- singer Matt Healy is a cross between David Bowie and Mick Jagger with a bit of Jack Sparrow swagger- but for the world they have created for their fans, a world that, I wager, has drawn many an older than the common teenage, lusting on Healy age group to the band's hordes.

  Not since My Chemical Romance has a band created a world for its fans to live in. I'm talking about referencing other artists, sticking to a set aesthetic for a touring cycle, suggesting a style of clothing, and even introducing high literature for the illiterate masses- Healy mentioned Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata in a tweet over the summer and many of the students I tutor who are fans of his tried to read it; no one reads that novella except serious literature students. I was impressed. The band is dedicated to creating a universe for its fans to inhabit, giving them a place that transcends racial, age, and sexual barriers, a place that feels safe and familiar for them. 

  Now, I'm not sure how many of the teens there last night realized this but what Healy and co. have done is provide them with a sonic safe haven. Whether the screaming hordes noticed it or not, they were drawn to him like moths to flames in an almost cult fashion.

  The band backs up its rather lofty aesthetic with an energizing set that runs the gamut from dance until you die tracks to smooth, atmospheric ballads that transmit Healy's emotions to the crowd. Healy himself is an undeniable force, an intellectual who honestly knows how to control a group of people.  He had the audience in his hands last night, creating a cathartic yet genuine experience for everyone there. 

Healy Holding Court

     From their incredible intro and starter song, "The City," to the encore when they performed the highly emotional "Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You" amongst fan favorites "Robbers," "Chocolate," and "Sex," Matt Healy, George Daniel, Adam Hann, Ross MacDonald, and latest edition, saxaphonist John Waugh, had the crowd latching onto their every move and word.

John Waugh Closing Out the Main Set

  I've written about their ability to perform before when I saw them exactly six months before this concert, back in June in Baltimore, and I didn't think they could get better- I was wrong. There was something more confident about them this time around, something more commanding. These are definitely guys who know what they want, have begun to truly define themselves, and who realize the impact they can make with their music. They kept the energy up at all times and then built up the tension and the emotion for the more somber tracks such as "Me." They are truly mastering the art of making a setlist- leading the fans all the way up emotionally just to drop them down and grab them before they hit rock bottom.

   The band is incredible in more ways than one- they're smart; they're incredible musicians; they're passionate; and, most importantly, nothing feels disingenuous with them. At the end of My Chemical Romance's career, who I mentioned before as an act that created a world for its fans, they began to feel contrived and that all the details they put into their work were nothing but trite; they lost touch with what they were creating and were just following their track record of creating pseudo rock operas. So far, Healy and co. haven't gone that route and hopefully they won't. They announced at the show that they were starting work on their second album, much to the approval of the roaring fans; with any luck, the band will remain as genuine and true to its art as it has been since its conception.

Matty Healy and George Daniel

   As of right now, the band is on the right track, sticking to its guns and not compromising its integrity for something as silly as a Grammy Nomination. And, hell, even One Direction hasn't gotten a nod yet so, really, no one knows what those big whigs want. It didn't seem to bother Healy that night. As he said, The 1975 isn't an industry band, it's a fan band, and it was no where more apparent than in that crowd Friday night. 

-Tonianne Bellomo
All photos by Tonianne Bellomo


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