May 31, 2013

The 1975: A Taste of Heaven in a Hellish Crowd

             A while ago, I published a post here about a band called The 1975 playing at The Borderline, with a capacity of 275 people.  Last night, I attended Heaven nightclub to see the same band play to a packed out crowd of 1,850 people.

             Arriving before doors opened at seven, my intention had been to stand comfortably in front of the stage with my friend once we made our way inside. Little did I know just how fervent people would be to claim the same position, so we settled for third, sometimes fourth, and by the end of the night, fifth and sixth row. Los Angeles band The Bots kick started the night and the sibling duo certainly looked their ripe ages of 18 and 14. I remember noise, a lot of noise. Lead singer and guitar player, Mikaiah Lei, jumped into the audience at one point, dragging the microphone chord to its limit and throwing his body around, falling into the laps of his listeners, myself included. Meanwhile, Anaiah threw water bottles at us and continued to make the drums pulsate. When Matthew Healy, frontman of The 1975, appeared in the sidelines to dance along, all eyes turned to him, urging him to command the stage instead. My feet were beginning to ache and my patience wear thin, but at least The Bots had charisma.

             After the din subsided, a man wearing a beanie who I initially thought was one of the stage crew, now stared out at us from behind a MacBook. Much to my delight, this man turned out to be DJ Bear//Face and he began remixing The 1975’s “Intro/Set 3.” My ears were flooded with electric beats and pounding bass and everyone started to sway. Swaying turned to grinding as Jeremih’s “Birthday Sex” got chopped and screwed. Bear//Face was surprisingly nonchalant and ridiculously good at his art form. All we could see were his hands skillfully moving around the keyboard, transfixed by how he did it with such ease. About two hours later, it was finally time for The 1975 to take center stage.

             Band members Adam Hann, George Daniel, and Ross MacDonald took their places, and Healy loomed over us, twirling his microphone in circles. All it took were the first few notes of “Head.Cars.Bending” to play and suddenly I was being pounced on from all angles. Let me just say that The 1975 are not really a mosh pit kind of band, but somehow I ended up being consumed in one. Through the course of the evening, I stopped fighting the flow and jumped and shoved like the best of them. What else can you really do? I like to call it “experience.” Luckily though, a plaid-shirted stranger came to my aid and he helped me fend off most of the people careening into me. We communicated a silent understanding through a few thumbs ups and mouthed “thank you’s.” This was certainly not the same band I had seen a few months earlier. This was certainly not the same crowd I had witnessed either! Replacing a fairly reserved, stationary bunch from The Borderline was a mob of overtly excited fans. Even Healy told the audience to calm down, to which I managed to scream out a rather hoarse, “Thank you!” That seemed to be my adopted phrase of the night.

             As Healy sang a song called “Girls” from The 1975’s upcoming album, he looked over and smiled and winked at his girlfriend, model Gemma Janes. He also conveyed genuine surprise at playing to such a large crowd and credited us all for making it possible. Healy snapped us with his camera, and I can say that although I might be a speck on that shot, I was there and proud to be included amongst the rest of the specks. Somewhere between a flurry of interchanging colored lights and trying not to succumb to the undulations of the crowd, the gig occurred and the gig ended. Crowd-pleaser and radio sensation “Chocolate” left my friend wishing they could have played it again so she could enjoy it. She had been instead concerning herself with attending to her smacked nose. Afterwards, it was time to indulge in some McDonald’s and recuperate. We took consolation in the fact that we had probably burned most of it off during the show already. Heaven, known typically for its gay scene, is located conveniently close to Charing Cross tube station. It didn’t take long then for us to go from Under the Arches on Villiers Street to the Golden Arches back where we live in Richmond.

             I have now been to three of The 1975’s shows. I was lucky enough the first two times to revel in quiet ambience and meet Healy, but with crowds as large as Heaven’s, a meet and greet is now near impossible. I guess you could say they’ve made it and I couldn’t think of a band more worthy of the recognition. I’m glad that I could be a part of their transition and watch it happen right in front of my eyes. In September, I will be attending another one of The 1975’s shows at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire with a capacity of 2,000 people. Maybe my moshing skills will be perfected by then. 

             The 1975’s latest EP, IV, dropped on May 20th and it has been confirmed that their debut album will be released in September. Check here for their website. If you’re interested in The Bots, have a look here, and if you’re in the mood for Bear//Face, listen here.

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