Our debut gig-goer is Lauren Lilley, who looks back on The 1975's Hydro gig this year with fond memories of a show more like a gathering of a community, and a band that soundtracked her teenage years.
Without a doubt, the best ever gig I have been to was seeing The 1975 for the fourth time when they played The SSE Hydro in March 2020.
I love The 1975. Probably a bit too much. While they definitely do have a bit of a cult following, this inevitably adds a sense of community to their live shows. Whatever you think about them, pretentious as they may be, their live shows are incredible. I don’t really like The Hydro, or similarly big venues, but The 1975 made it a fully immersive experience; the kind of show you should put on if you’re playing a venue that big. The visuals were absolutely insane, with a full LED screen backdrop, along with several moving rectangular screens and their trademark moving giant rectangle frame. The visual design is technologically very impressive: during fallingforyou they even managed to create an optical illusion. This was the third time I had seen this on-stage setup and every time I saw something new – a detail I’d missed the last time. I’ve been asked why I keep seeing them, but with a discography that extensive and a regularly switched-up setlist, as well as every song having a unique design that matches its tone, or the music video released to go with it, I could never get bored. If you follow anyone who likes The 1975 on social media, I’m sure that you saw how incredibly well the set photographs and videos; I do think that’s one of the things that makes this gig so special. You really do feel like you’re reliving the experience when you look at those photos afterwards and, with the unique visuals for each song, you can look at photos and know exactly what song is playing when it was taken; especially if you love them as much as I do.
The setlist is also a brilliant mix of emotions, the bouncy nature of TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME, the emotions of Robbers (with the backdrop of its iconic music video) and the complete euphoria of going crazy to Sex at the end; they really have managed to write three incredible albums which can take you through every feeling in the space of two hours. This may be because I’m a Tumblr-era kid, but nothing gets me as excited as putting on my flowery Doc Martens to badly sing along to a band that I spent hours watching interviews and reblogging awful edits of. The band acknowledge this as well; they mention the effect their songs had on a generation of teenagers, specifically young girls, and it’s really nice to see a band of that scale really appreciate their young, female audience, given how often they are undermined as a silly fanbase. Another factor that makes these more recent gigs so special is seeing the recovery of Matty, the frontman. He struggled with drug addiction for most of his earlier career, so being able to see him genuinely aware of the joy he brings so many people and for him to be able to just stand there, smiling at the huge, sold-out venue was something that was incredibly touching on an emotional level.
This was the last gig I got to go to before Covid, and while there was a slight sense of worry about the spread of coronavirus, no one could have predicted we would be where we are now. I fully expected to be going to see them again in August at Edinburgh Summer Sessions, when their album, Notes On A Conditional Form, had been released. I think the fact that this was the last gig I was, and possibly will be, able to go to for a really long time is part of what makes those memories so special. It was the last time I got to dance around to some great tunes with my friends and run across the bridge into the SECC campus with a can of dark fruits in my hand (I am very aware I am basically a self-parody at this point). On top of this, I was having a really rough time in the lead up to this gig, I wasn’t even excited to go and see the band who I may have spent too much of my student loan on. However, by the time the gig was over, I felt like myself for the first time in months. I went with my amazing best friend who jumped to The Sound with me and held me while I cried to I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes) and reminded me how much she loved me during Guys. The 1975 really have been the soundtrack to my teenage years. I have solidified friendships through the band, been motivated by them when I was at my lowest, and danced my heart out to them when I was at my happiest. What makes music special is the personal connection we have to it, and the emotions it allows us to express, but mainly the escape it offers. For those few hours I had no worries or problems, I believed I could do anything, and I would thrive on that feeling for days afterwards.
And so, on that note, I’ll end this article the same way they end their shows.
Rock and Roll is dead.
God Bless The 1975.
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