by Chloe Catajan
Even with massive stage lights and elaborate visual displays, The 1975 still has a way of making its concerts an up-close and personal experience for fans.
The Manchester quartet has been on the road for its Music For Cars Tour in support of its latest album,
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. Its recent double stop in San Francisco started out with a hypnotic, sold-out first night. The stage design was immersive in itself, boxing in the band and crowd, but what drove the performance home was how in tune every member was with each other and the audience.
Over the course of the evening, The 1975's stage presence only got better and better. Frontman Matty Healy's footwork would switch between the likes of Mick Jagger to Michael Jackson, making it all blend into the show's dynamic pace. There was genuine joy in his performance, which seemed to bounce right back to fans. For the frenetic set-opener, “Give Yourself A Try," Healy paraded his high energy all over the floor. A couple song's later, the jazzy “Sincerity is Scary" had Healy shuffling (a la the track's music video) across a built-in treadmill that lined the front of the stage. His vocals came off fluid and effortless—and on occasion with a tasteful use of autotune, like on “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME." On top of performing, Healy remained incredibly aware of the packed room, interacting with fans frequently and, at one point, urging everyone to shift backwards and make space for one another.
The show continued moving through different moods elevated by the band's live arrangements and visuals. Backup dancers and fiery riffs from guitarist Adam Hann brought to life infectious cuts like “It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)," while bittersweet melodies from bassist-keyboardist Ross MacDonald and steady drumming from George Daniel wound the set down with the more emotional material—"Robbers," “Fallingforyou" and “Somebody Else" really pulling at the heartstrings. Striking a chord on a different level was “I Like America & America Likes Me," which featured a montage of news clips that underscored the track's intense political message.
The 1975 brought out fan favorites “Chocolate" and “Sex" for the encore, and ultimately closed with “The Sound"—its infectious pulse prompting the entire auditorium to jump along.
Pale Waves, a fellow Manchester quartet, filled the room with ecstatic energy through a mix of goth-pop and indie. Throbbing basslines and tinny guitar riffs in cuts like “There's A Honey" and “The Tide" gave the band's sound a retro bubblegum-pop feel, while lead vocalist-guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie's ultra confessional lyrics rounded out the group's youthful spirit.
Manila-born, London-based singer and producer No Rome opened with a set driven by silky beats and ethereal vocals. Songs like “Saint Laurent" and “Blue jeans" zeroed in on the teenage experience, from young love to aesthetics, all while showcasing the artist's laidback flow. No Rome also joined The 1975 onstage during their set to perform their collaboration song, “Narcissist."
(Photos: Chloe Catajan)