Nothing happened yet, but the fans were screaming. Anticipation rose as we waited for The 1975 to take the Barclays Center stage, the crowd began holding up their cell phones, creating a beautiful starlit sky effect (which would later be reflected back at us).
Once on stage, the band wasted no time, jumping right into one of their best songs to date, "Love Me." With three lit up squares above the band, four rectangles across the stage, and blaring hot pink lights everywhere, we felt like we were in the middle of the 80s-inspired music video for the song. Frontman Matt Healy classed up the joint and had all the fangirls swooning over a more formal, unexpected look -- a grey suit and reading glasses. Guitarist Adam Hann also hopped on the suit train and it was anything but plain, as his was covered in a floral pattern. Between the lights, outfits, perfectly symmetrical shapes, and of course, the music, the bands aesthetic was what the kids would call "on point."
After the first song, the band was charged with an insane amount of energy. Healy's mic stand had already fallen over at that point, just to give you an idea. They kept the energy at that level by going into another solid song, "UGH!" The crowd was amped up as the lights changed into lit buildings to emulate a city skyline. It was a magical moment as the band transported us into a completely different world.
Later on, in between songs, Healy took a moment to profess how grateful he was for their fans. He said something along the lines of, "Heres why we feel so modest: we are not a band who is all over magazines or the radio, we are purely generated by fans." And that is true. Some may not realize it because of how big the band is now, but they truly owe their success to the fans. They're not being shoved down our ears by being played all over the radio and they're not showing up on every billboard in sight. They're not some manufactured band being pushed on us by a label.
Although they have big, catchy songs that could be #1 hits, like "Love Me" or "Somebody Else," they don't always follow the exact pop formula -- they have a lot of freedom, which allows them to create whatever they want. For example, their new album, I Love It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet Unaware Of It,
is as ambitious as ever, consisting of a few instrumental M83-tinged tracks along with other tracks that are almost six minutes long. You will never hear these songs on the radio, but still, the whole world knows about it and more importantly, their fans love it. It makes the fans who have been there since day 1 feel like the songs are still their own little secret.
As the night continued, Healy whipped out his guitar for a few songs and the lights kept changing. Until you've seen it, you can't understand how magical these lights are and how much work was put into them. They hit almost every color combination and used interesting patterns like TV static, fades, city skylines, and more. The fans continued going crazy and threw roses on stage, which Hann held as he played guitar.
For "If I Believe You," the band brought out a backing choir which added a whole new dimension. The physical togetherness and the way the voices blended together was overwhelmingly powerful.
Some other highlights of the night were "She's American," "Loving Someone," "Somebody Else," "fallingforyou," and "Robbers."
During one of the last songs, "The Sound," Healy asked the crowd to jump at the same time and instead of jumping, I looked around to experience how truly beautiful it was. Everyone had come together in unison, and it was an unforgettable moment. Due purely to their fans, The 1975 are not only maturing musically, but growing as a successful band overall. In 2013, the band played Webster Hall in New York City and three years later, I had the opportunity to watch them light up a full room at Barclays Center. We can't wait to see which venue they end up at after they release their next record.
Check out more of our photos of The 1975 as well as the incredible openers, Wolf Alice and The Japanese House.
Photos by Kirsten Spruch