"A 1975 show is a sensory experience"Lollapalooza_Berlin_2016_The1975_08_Matias_Altbach-1024x683

Attempting to define The 1975 is close to impossible, like trying to pin a tail on a restless donkey. After the release of their genre-spanning third LP, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, it seems like they’ve done it all. Jazz ballad? Yep. Protest Anthem? Yep. Homage to Joy Division? Absolutely. For a band formerly considered to be on the fringes of the indie landfill, they have by now metamorphosed into one of the most popular bands on the planet, slated to headline Reading and Leeds on August 23rd 2019.

But then, the day before they were due to perform, they released People – a thrashing post-punk statement of intent. In the track Matty Healy shreds his vocal cords against a backdrop of punctuated snares and seething guitar lines, screaming about the apathy of the millennial generation. ‘WAKE UP, WAKE UP, WAKE UP’ he screams, a war cry to political action. In one moment, he’s sarcastically indicting our love of next-day delivery, and in the next he’s railing against the political establishment ‘for fucking with the kids.’ It’s raw, undiluted fury.

 "For five whole minutes, they forced a crowd of drunken teenagers to listen to a young girl speak about a world on fire."

This wasn’t the first time that the band has released a curveball. Back in 2015, they followed their debut album by releasing Love Me – an 80’s inspired synth-pop track lavished with tongue-in-cheek reflections on newfound fame. They thrive off invention, defying the constraints of genre to create a discography that is both thematically and sonically varied.

Few mainstream contemporary bands have addressed political injustice as directly as The 1975. Fierce supporters of LGBTQ+ rights, Healy made headlines across the world after kissing a male fan at a show in Dubai, where homosexuality is illegal. The first single off their upcoming album, Notes on a Conditional Form, is an instrumental track featuring Greta Thunberg, in which she lays bare the gravity of the climate emergency. At Reading they played the entire thing. They didn’t care about killing the mood. For five whole minutes, they forced a crowd of drunken teenagers to listen to a young girl speak about a world on fire. Shamelessly political.

Their manager recently compared them to ‘The Stones, The Beatles or Bowie’, and at first thought, such a comparison seems outrageously overblown. Despite three number one albums to their name, The 1975 are leagues away from achieving the sort of widespread cultural popularity of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. David Bowie is a 21st century icon, topping worldwide album charts from beyond the grave.

 "The 1975 aren’t aiming to be popular. They’re making music that matters."

And yet when it comes to showmanship, no other contemporary artist comes close to the 1975. A 1975 show is a sensory experience, awash with neon lights and gorgeous set design. Healy is a modern-day rockstar – blending all the camp affectations of Mick Jagger with the slick choreography of Michael Jackson and the political acrimony of Billie Joe Armstrong. He’s all this and still distinctly himself – sarcastic, self-aware and unashamedly sentimental. And their music speaks for itself: ranging from poignant acoustic ballads, shoegazing jangle-rock and trap-inspired electro-pop to tropical house, garage and spoken word.


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Compare this to the likes of Ed Sheeran, who – despite achieving stratospheric levels of popularity – continues to pump out inane radio pop faster than a guinea pig pumping out offspring. The 1975 aren’t aiming to be popular. They’re making music that matters. Their hunger to push into new genres and explore the existential issues of the modern world is thrilling. The 1975 have done for the youth of today what Nirvana did for the kid of the 90s: they’ve captured the feeling of a generation. And while Bowie and The Beatles are esteemed company to hold, The 1975 are more than worthy of sharing of that space.