The vibe was more popcorn and Coca-Cola than tallboys and shots as the 1975 took the stage Wednesday at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.
A popular spot for high school graduations and fan conventions, the St. Paul venue lent the show an underage vibe quite appropriate for the Manchester band’s fanbase. As the 1975 kicked off their movie-length set, rabid teenagers jumped giddily up and down while their dads hung out in the back, slamming just enough Shock Tops to enjoy the show and still safely drive everyone home.
Word on the street is the band’s lead singer, Matthew Healy, is drooled over by high-school-aged ladies, as if he was the lost 6th member of One Direction.
Given his diminutive stature, bad-boy vibe, and British accent, it (sort of) makes sense he was able to achieve heartthrob status without paying his dues to boy bandom. After all, he's known to perform in a suit sans shirt, showing off a hairless chest and a sloppy man-bun. As far as we know, that's exactly what Gen Z is into (don’t quote us on that).
Onstage, Healy comes off less like a leather-clad rock god, and more like the skinny kid in art class who devotes the semester to making ceramic pug statues. He seems like someone Shia LaBeouf might portray in an indie film directed by Sofia Coppola — all limbs, hair, and well-timed Replacements T-shirts.
During the show Healy smoked several cigarettes, had someone bring him wine, and accepted two rose bouquets from the audience. At one point he even FaceTimed with an audience member’s friend named Maggie.
The band played hits from their sophomore album, February's creepily titled I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, including “She’s American,” “Somebody Else,” and “Paris.”
Listening to their newest singles, it’s clear the band underwent the natural evolution for dude groups in their 20s, meandering from radio-friendly hits to something more sprawling, ambient, and interesting. At times, the show felt more Pitchfork Music Festival than iHeartRadio extravaganza.
During the band’s newer, more experimental songs, the crowd vibed out hard, but it was clear they were mostly there for the 1975’s older radio hits, like “Chocolate” and “Sex.” (Are they getting their song titles by closing their eyes and pointing at random words in Cosmo? Possibly!)
The highlight of the night was the band’s amazing light show, which featured square-shaped overhead lights and giant cubes on the stage. It brought an awesome synesthetic quality to the band’s already colorful music.
During certain songs, the light-cubes and background featured white noise TV fuzz, and during others it showed the band reflected back to infinity with Guitar Hero-like lights bouncing between them. To get a sense of what the visual aesthetic was like, search the term “vaporwave” on Tumblr and subtract the cats and Japanese symbols. Voila!
Another highlight was the band’s saxophone player John Waugh, who brought some serious swagger to the set.
Love or hate the 1975, their show certainly isn’t boring. Between the stunning light orchestration and Healy’s general give-zero-fucks attitude, there was plenty of angst, smoke machine-chic, and intrigue to go around.
Critic's bias: My significant other is more a fan of this band than I am. I saw them on Saturday Night Live and thought Matthew Healy seemed like a psychopath. Not sure why.
The crowd: Lots of teenage girls. I always forget how short teenagers are until I’m at something like this. There were also lots of men who were probably dads but could have been bear-types really into Matthew Healy.
Random notebook dump: Matthew Healy has released his bun.
Overheard in the crowd: “My mom offered to pick me up but I was like, 'Bitch I’m driving myself!'"