Live Review: The 1975 + The Japanese House – Festival Hall, Melbourne (20.01.16)

Returning to the gem of Melbourne music venues for a sold-out show, exclusively to their “true fans” at Festival Hall, it’s easy to see why British rockers The 1975 are welcomed back so eagerly. As I walk down Melbourne’s La Trobe Street, it’s not hard to tell who will be joining me at the concert – any teenage girl within a 300-meter vicinity holding a white iPhone 6 with a denim jacket or flannel tied around the waist, Doc Martens (unlaced) and hair done up with half a top-bun is guaranteed to be screaming their lungs out when the band comes on stage. These fans are of another breed. As they wait in line, they are forever updating their Twitter accounts or chatting among fellow fans about the band’s upcoming album I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It; there is an unavoidable energy surrounding the venue before doors have even opened.

The night opened with a fellow UK act The Japanese House, delivering a melodic sound that captured the audience – but it already seems that fans will lap up anyone associated with The 1975. Performing a blended mixture of guitars and synth created an electronic/alternative pop sound, and paired with the dreamlike vocals of Amber Bain it didn’t stray too far away from the style of The 1975 (the band co-produced her sophomore EP). Her sound was something you could turn on and hear being played on Triple J any time of the day, yet it became apparent within a couple of minutes it was hard to differentiate songs. This might have gotten on my nerves, but The Japanese House readily shows potential. With exposure to a fan base that knows very well how to harness the capabilities of social media, it seems The Japanese House is in good hands for a solid audience.

It wasn’t until 8:30 pm when the hall darkened, a sea of iPhones appeared and screams began bursting ear drums is when the night truly began. Each member strolled onto stage to a pushing and shoving crowd, but when lead singer and rhythm guitarist Matty Healy wanders to the microphone before the lights flash pink and the first notes of “Love Me” began to play is the moment shit truly got real. There was a particular force that encapsulated the audience immediately; every word was sung back with such ferocity and instantaneously formed a connection between Healy and each individual in the crowd.

The stage presence of Matty is something we haven’t seen in years – every time I looked at him, all I saw was a young Michael Hutchence in both looks and demeanour. Although INXS was well before my time (let alone anyone’s at the concert), the song “Love Me” itself and the energy of Matty are a flashback to the style of Australia’s iconic success story.

As the night continued on, songs including “Heart Out” featured a saxophone solo as Matty danced around the stage, wine glass in hand. The band played an incredibly tight set; no time for talking in the earlier stages of the night, aside from the usual “How are we feeling Melbourne?”. It wasn’t until later on in the night that Matty asked the audience to put their phones away, explaining that the next couple of songs would be just ‘me and you, no phones’, and it worked. “Fallingforyou” is already a slow and heartfelt song but without the barrier of iPhone cameras, it added a different sense of emotion.

The 1975 prove a true musicianship in their live shows, even if somewhat discredited by their fangirl status. They know how to bring an audience to life with simultaneous jumps from the crowd and lyrics being shouted from the tops of lungs. They’re the epitome of a teenage dream that strays away from the usual pop machine of today, reminiscent of bands from the 80’s and 90’s that didn’t fit the niche of mainstream pop, but still had a large following of young fans. From the lighting and visual production, the aesthetic of The 1975’s live show is a Tumblr dashboard come to life.

The 1975 prove to be a clear example of what entices the teenage mind in the modern age. Songs are filled with dark lyrics yet still make the crowd dance, letting the audience be in a trance. The encore of arguably their most popular songs, “Girls” and “Sex” were almost overwhelming as the audience responded with an incredible passion to the music.

As cliché as it sounds, The 1975 are masters at allowing their crowd become lost in the music and put on a performance that allows anyone – fangirl or otherwise, to truly become part of their world.

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