The 1975 captivates audience at pair of Midwest shows

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Cailey Gleeson | The DePaulia

Christmas came early for Chicago and Indianapolis fans of The 1975—especially in the form of special setlist additions—with a series of performances as they wrapped up their short stint of fall North American tour dates this past Thursday and Friday.  

The Manchester-based band, comprised of front man Matty Healy, guitarist Adam Hann, drummer George Daniel and bassist Ross MacDonald, had a busy year. Following the success of their critically acclaimed third studio album—“A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships”—the group immediately began touring while simultaneously recording their fourth album “Notes On A Conditional Form”—tentatively slated for release at the end of February 2020. 

On Thursday, as a part of 101.1 WKQX’s annual “The Night We Stole Christmas” concert series, the group took the stage at Aragon Ballroom—joined by alternative artists Allan Rayman and Bob Moses. Both opening acts captivated the crowd and only built the already high anticipation for the headlining act. 

Cailey Gleeson | The DePaulia

As the lights dimmed, the group’s introductory track filled the venue’s speakers—which has almost become ceremonial to their live shows—as they took to the stage and began their set with “People”—the first single off their new album. The song features a completely different vibe from the rest of their studio discography but is reminiscent of the group’s earlier days under the name Drive Like I Do. 

“Give Yourself A Try” and “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” were up next—with Healy’s erratic dance moves quickly establishing a connection between himself and the crowd. Surprisingly, “Heart Out”—a beloved track from their self-titled era—followed, despite it rarely making an appearance on setlists after the group’s touring of their sophomore album.  

More of “A Brief Inquiry” was played—specifically, “Sincerity Is Scary” and “It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You”—and succeeded by yet another song that rarely finds itself on the setlist, “Paris.” 

Healy dedicated “Frail State of Mind”—the most recent release from the band—to his home country at both shows, following the upset in election results from this past week. While this song has a more electronic sound than the rest of their discography, the fluctuating, colorful visual displays perfectly complemented its live performance.

Although it seemed as though the energy was only increasing, the mood quickly changed. 

“Let’s take it back to simpler times,” Healy said. 

With that, “An Encounter” began to play to introduce the group’s beloved anthem, “Robbers.” The sentimentality attached to the song for longtime fans was only heightened as the music video—which made rounds of virality amongst social media users from the time of its release to this day—played behind the band. “Somebody Else” had a similar impact—flooding the venue with bright magenta lights as fans emotionally sang along with Healy. 

Cailey Gleeson | The DePaulia

“I Like America and America Likes Me” and “Love It If We Made It” might have just stolen the show. It’s almost as if Healy becomes more impassioned every time he performs these two tracks in particular, given the group’s emphasis on change needed in the current political climate. Plus, he accidentally hit himself in the face with the microphone while erratically swinging the cord around his neck after “I Like America.”

The mood was once again softened with “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes),” but it became quickly apparent that the track was strategically placed within the set to give fans a chance to relax before the powerhouse that was the last three songs of the set. 

The ever-nostalgic tunes “Chocolate” and “Sex” transported Aragon back to 2013—when The 1975 was just gaining popularity from their debut album. It may be six years later, but Healy’s enthusiasm while performing each remains unwavering. 

Giant red and green balloons rained down from the balconies of the Aragon as the group closed their set with “The Sound.” 

The following night, The 1975 stole Christmas once again—this time at Indiana Farmer’s Coliseum in Indianapolis—with Joywave and Surburban kicking off the performances. They changed the setlist—as they did in their spring run of Midwest shows—but there were only two distinct differences between the two performances. 

First off, “Paris” was substituted for “A Change Of Heart.” Both songs feature a very similar sound, which allowed the audience to prepare for what was about to come.

“Fallingforyou” followed “Robbers,” but it became quickly apparent that no one in the audience was ready for the next part of the setlist. 

Healy struggled to begin the emotional finale to the trifecta he had created within the night’s setlist. 

Cailey Gleeson | The DePaulia

“I know we’re hard to love sometimes,” Healy said. “Especially me, so thank you.” 

The opening notes for “Me” began as fans turned on their flashlights to tearfully accompany Healy as he performed what may just be the most vulnerable song he’s ever written, as he details the divorce of his parents and struggle to support his younger brother in his time of need.

This trio undoubtedly stole the show, as the rest of the show was nearly identical to the previous night.

It goes without saying that Healy’s stage presence is simply unmatched. He commands not only the stage, but the audience in such a charismatic yet idiosyncratic way each time the group performs—especially through his one-of-a-kind dance moves. That—coupled with the group’s sheer talent and stunning visual displays—truly establishes The 1975 as one of the best bands to see live in this day and age.

Given the versatility from the two released singles for “Notes On A Conditional Form,” there’s no telling just how the next run of shows will unfold. One thing’s for sure: It’s bound to be good.