Dressed in black, from head to toe, and rocking combat boots, fans oozed into the center of the Carrier Dome to bear witness to a new kind of British Invasion for Syracuse University’s annual Rock The Dome concert.
The 1975 materialized out of a fog on stage after a teasing introduction that seemed to last fifteen minutes; the slow crescendoing sound of the self titled first track off their sophomore album, I Like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, opening the show.
There was something striking about the way lead singer Matt Healy unabashedly flailed his body across the stage, every arm raise and hip swing guided by alien-like sitar sounds and old funk beats as one song seamlessly transitioned into another. He was fully absorbed in the music, and yet, somehow seemingly free of any worldly limitations. And while desperate sips from a filled wine glass would suggest he was something else, you could tell he was fully in control of himself, and of the crowd. In that moment, as lights shined on showgoers under the dome and bathed them in mind-bending dreams and electric colors, it was easy to imagine nothing else but loving him.
Biasedly shaped by years of listening to their pop infused notes and surprisingly thoughtful lyrics while studying under a light in my otherwise dark dorm room, The 1975 was and is a symbol of individuality, refusing to conform to perceived normalities. To label their music or to contort their bodies to fit inside a box would be to misunderstand their sound, and the band altogether.
Largely instrumental, if not wholly, interludes like “Please Be Naked” and “Lostmyhead” prove the band’s complexity, their willingness to experiment with electronic, and almost haunting rhythms. While songs like “This must be my dream,” “Heart Out,” and “If I believe” simultaneously show off their appreciation for ‘80s/90s pop and tender jazz, with mini saxophone solos by sideman John Waugh, who has the skills and look of a young Kenny G.
As they effortlessly moved through the setlist, each band member seemed to stay fixed in his own designated space; so concentrated on strumming sensualized riffs from guitar strings and stroking simple chords from keyboards. The only connection between them being Matty, who floated to each member’s corner of the stage throughout the show, bringing even more energy out of their fingers as they caressed their instruments.
It was hard not to feel that same spirit seep its way into the crowd, compelling arms to rise from beneath the haze and lyrics to spill from the mouths of the transfixed. To see The 1975 live is to have an experience, one teetering on the border of spiritual. It was if they were our gods, and in that space of time we were being blessed and taken someplace much higher than the floor of the Dome. We were irrevocably theirs: they told us to jump, and we all jumped; they told us to vote, and we all––well, I doubt all of us voted, but I’m sure we all considered it in that moment. So when they said goodnight, we all walked away: drained and excited to go home and relive the dreams.