This past Friday night, British pop rockers The 1975 packed The Forum for their third Los Angeles show in the past year. Last winter, I saw the group perform their newest album, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, ahead of its February release at an intimate show downtown. Although the songs were new to me, fans were already screaming the lyrics, so I came ready to sing along to their new ’80s-pop tracks as well as their dreamy, building soundscapes from earlier records.
Smoke billowed onstage as girls folded over the barricade, telling me they “camped out for two nights” to nab the prime spaces. It seemed to be worth it as the primarily female audience burst into screams as the band took the stage to their self-titled track “The 1975” followed by their latest high-energy singles “Love Me” and “UGH!”
In his signature British drawl, lead singer Matthew Healy screamed, “Los Angeles! This is fucking mental!” before requesting fans on the floor step back, as girls were already being crushed against the barrier. Thankfully, that gave those packed on the floor room to dance to the group’s next string of ’80s-influenced dance-pop songs, including “This Must Be My Dream” and “She’s American.”
The 1975 can pivot from uplifting, pop bites to more dramatic tracks filled with building soundscapes, like their newer song, “Loving Someone,” which Healy screamed into the venue’s video camera, arms outstretched, communicating the desperation of that powerful track.
It was time for the band’s R&B and funk influences to take the stage, quite literally as four soulful backup singers came onstage for “Please Be Naked.” Healy dragged on cigarettes through The 1975’s slower song and the group’s immersive stage design, with its four video towers and overhead neon squares, perfectly highlighted “Lostmyhead.” Healy stood on the amp as a burning guitar solo played behind him, bringing the song to a powerful crescendo — a frequent move for this band.
Healy took a moment to address the political catastrophe happening in our country, explaining, “We are from the UK, and we thought the older generation would be sympathetic towards the younger generation, and they weren’t, and we got into a fucked-up situation,” in reference to Brexit. He went on, “You’re on the edge of something very fucked-up happening, too, but look at how many beautiful liberal people are here tonight!” and encouraged them to vote. The crowd cheered and, in case anyone had any doubts, Healy ended with, “Yeah, fuck Donald Trump,” before launching into the chillwave “Heads.Cars.Bending.”
Healy is an undeniably charismatic showman. He shimmied in his leather jacket, a la Michael Jackson, throwing his mop of curly hair back and forth. He mesmerized the crowd in synth-filled power ballads like “Somebody Else,” crooning out emotionally while swaggering across stage.
The Los Angeles skyline at night lit up the stage for the love song “Medicine” featuring The 1975’s signature saxophone solos and steel drums. The sea of screaming girls appropriately sang along to “Girls,” which was filled with dreamy synth and poppy guitar riffs, and the explosive bridge of “Sex” was heightened by pulsating strobe lights.
The encore started slowly as The 1975 built up the audience once more. The backup singers returned for the emotional “If I Believe You” with burning saxophone solos and carried fans through the power ballad “Robbers” with Healy’s long, painful belting. The energy soared as the bright, finger-picked riff of the band’s break-out hit “Chocolate” rang out. Earworm “The Sound” closed out the twenty-five-song set. Even after their final bows, The 1975 has their fans dancing as they left the venue and well into the parking lot.
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