Rock band hypnotizes Chicago with performance

“The room swirled with fog pouring from the stage, obstructing the view of the band. Light poured from a glowing rectangle behind the stage, silhouetting the performers. Tiny star-like light bulbs blinked on the ceiling of the Aragon Ballroom in downtown Chicago, which was painted like a swirled and cloudy night sky.

“We’re the 1975 from Manchester.”

Screams drowned out every other sound in the room, and hands lifted. When the first strains of  “The City” played, the room exploded with noise and movement.

The indie band from England started out its setlist with some of its faster-paced rock songs like “Pressure,” “Heart Out,” “Settle Down” and “Girls.” Band frontman Matt Healy performed dynamically, flipping his mop of black hair on the downbeat, rocking to each of the songs. The crowd pushed closer to the stage, adding to the tension and excitement while creating even more energy as thousands jumped and lifted their arms, yelling every word.

The tone of the show shifted as the band performed “M.O.N.E.Y.,” with a softer, synth-pop feel. Healy made no effort to hide the fact that he was intoxicated, performing with a microphone in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. This didn’t impact his performance, and he still sang with passion.

Once the band played “Menswear,” the mood of the concert changed. A quiet settled over the room as the crowd swayed to the song’s more relaxing beat.  Before playing the next two songs, “Me,” and “Fallingforyou,” Healy asked everyone to put their phones away, saying, “This is now, this is right now, so let’s be with each other.”

A spell fell over the crowd. Arms lowered and phones disappeared, and only the musicians were visible. The band used only white lights, so the glow on the fog created a dreamlike effect. The slower songs showcased Healy’s soulful voice, and the crowd sang along as he spun in circles and swayed to the beat. A saxophone solo in “Me” drifted into the dark room, hauntingly beautiful.

The band broke the trance and picked up the pace to finish out the show, returning energy to the room. For crowd-favorite “Robbers,” Healy chose a fan and brought her on the stage, serenading her while the rest of the crowd sang the words like an anthem. After briefly exiting the stage, the band came back for an encore of “Chocolate,” and finished out with “Sex.” The crowd jumped as they chanted, uniting the massive group of fans for an powerful end to the show.

The band bowed, and Healy could barely get out his last words as the room filled with screaming.

“I’ve been scared to play in a room this size in America, but you guys have made us feel welcome… . Thank you so much.”

The last lights went out on stage, and the room filled with darkness and applause. The 1975 put on a flawless show and, by the end, exhausted and satisfied the entire room of fans.”

(c) Erin Fuhr // The Echo

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