By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer
On Thursday night, the English band that escapes genres and defined a generation of internet culture and aesthetics lived up to the title of their tour, “The 1975 At Their Very Best,” with an intimate crowd at Austin’s Moody Center.
According to The 1975 frontman Matty Healy, it was “the best show in town, some are saying.”
He was right. With an incredible setlist and a stage layout unlike any other concert, The 1975 proved why their cult fanbase remains loyal, nine years after the release of their debut album.
There was a sense that the audience was invited into Healy’s own home, as the stage was laid out to resemble a house. A spiral staircase, multiple couches, a stack of vintage television sets and various doors and bookshelves littered the stage.
Healy’s music often provides biting social commentary, especially on social media and online behavior, revealing the stage design as a representation of how people often lay their lives bare on the internet, inviting followers and strangers into their own home.
Healy performed “I Like America and America Likes Me” from atop the roof of the house, and often scaled the spiral staircase during other songs.
During the first act of the show, Healy searched for a book on one of the shelves, eventually picking out one large volume titled “The 1975.” From it he sang the lyrics to “So Far (It’s Alright),” a song buried 32 tracks deep into the deluxe version of the band’s self-titled debut album.
The show was a piece of performance art, a critique of modern masculinity by Healy, who wonders aloud in interviews what it means to be a man in an era when the choices seem to be Andrew Tate’s “alpha male” toxicity versus Harry Styles’ dresses and pearls.
Healy dropped to the floor and did dozens of pushups in front of the stack of 10 television sets flicking through images of Ben Shapiro and Logan Paul. During other stops on the tour, Healy gnawed on a raw steak as well.
To finish off the first act of the show, Healy disappeared off stage by crawling into one of the television sets as orchestral music swelled, and the audience was brought to a shocked fever pitch.
There was a noticeable break between the character Healy put on during the first half of the show — a lonely man attempting to prove his worth to the audience by performing his strength, sexuality and masculinity to an audience — versus the high-energy and more Healy-like playfulness of the second half.
The second half of the concert contained more fan-favorite hits from previous albums, such as “Me and You Together Song,” “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” “Robbers,” “Somebody Else” and more.
Healy was the last to leave the stage after his bandmates collected their coats and turned off each lamp, as if putting the house to sleep for the night. Standing in the doorway, a lit rectangle in homage to the band’s signature logo, Healy looked out at the audience one last time and waved goodbye.
As the last lamp was clicked off, fans trickled from the stands in hushed silence, still processing what they had seen.
It’s a unique loyalty that prompts dozens of fans to wear T-shirts that read “I hate Matty Healy” to the concert and simultaneously tote around $100 worth of merchandise, but it’s the sort of loyalty that Healy and his shows inspire.