This past weekend, I had the utmost pleasure of seeing my favorite band in the world perform live: The 1975. It was an exhilarating experience both visually and musically, and I'm pretty sure my voice still has not fully recovered. My muscles surely haven't from all the jumping and dancing I did. During all of the dancing and singing I did, I noticed something though that sobered me and got me thinking.
More bands should be like The 1975.
Okay, okay, stay with me here. I know that sounds incredibly biased on first glance. Of course, you think more bands should be like your favorite band, Laurel. That's why they are your favorite band. But, I do not mean this musically (though wouldn't that be cool?). I mean this however on a more social and political level. I think more bands should speak out for what they truly believe in like The 1975 do.
Let me explain.
The first time I ever watched something The 1975 was live on, it was the 2017 BRITS Awards. The band won their first ever BRIT Award and trotted up on stage. They looked exactly like what you would expect some niche band from the UK to look like, decked out in Gucci from head to toe, long hair, opulent. People joked on Twitter that they looked like Renaissance vampires. You would expect some kind of self-absorbed speech from a group like that, or a speech thanking fans that dives into a long list of people who worked on the album or piece that was awarded. The usual. However, The 1975 took everyone, myself included, by surprise that night.
After the shock faded and thanks were given, frontman Matty Healy called out the then (and still) current trend of people telling those in the public eye and otherwise to "stay in your lane" when talking about social issues. He then begged people with platforms to "not do that."
Kind of playing tip-toe out of the realm of your normal award speech, right?
The 1975 win British Group | The BRITs 2017 www.youtube.com
Flash forward a few years later, when the band was back at the BRITS in 2019. They came up to the mic dressed in tuxedos, and once again, they did the unexpected. Matty took the mic and said,
"I want to read a couple of sentences that a friend of ours, Laura Snapes, said this week and I thought we should all think about it. She said that, 'In music, male misogynist acts are examined for nuance and defended as traits of difficult artists, while women are treated as hysterics who don't understand art.'"
The 1975 win British Group | The BRIT Awards 2019 www.youtube.com
If 2017 was unusual, 2019 was blatantly odd.
But, for The 1975, it's typical.
While they make music because it is cathartic, fun, and makes people happy, they also do it to send a message. They try to change the climate around them through their music and work to get people thinking about society and the politics around them. It is all done unapologetically and with a feeling that is raw and pressured. It is intended to plant the seeds of change in those who listen to their music or see them live.
Go to a The 1975 concert like I did, and you will see this first hand. Not only will you be met with powerful and impassioned politically charged songs such as Love It If We Made It, a commentary on American politics and social inequalities, or I Like America & America Likes Me, an anthem surrounding gun violence, but you will be met with the genuine care this band has for the future of our world and the current state of things.
The 1975 - Love It If We Made It (Official Video) www.youtube.com
After the controversial abortion ban was passed in Alabama, The 1975 played Alabama's Hangout Fest, a festival right on the beach. Halfway through the set, Healy stepped out of the concert setting to speak out about just how he, and the band by proxy, felt about such a ban. Among many words, he said, "The reason I'm so angry is because I don't believe [the ban] is about the preservation of life, I believe it's about the controlling of women."
It was gutsy and controversial, but it was said because they do not want to sit around and let things happen without acknowledging what they see is wrong. They do not wish to "save face" like many bands today do. They spoke out, gave it their all, and made sure that their opponents knew where they stood, and their fans had hope for change.
This past weekend in Atlanta, Healy spoke about his fears of religion no longer being used for the sake of religion, but instead as a means to push agendas. He also brought the microphone to an 11-year-old child during I Like America and implored them to "change the world," since people like him are too old to do so. You could feel his anger and fear behind the song as he sang. He got so choked up by the emotion and gravity of the song's inner meaning that his backup dancers, The Jaiy Twins, consoled him afterward.
The 1975 - I Like America & America Likes Me www.youtube.com
It's stuff like this that I think bands today should do. They should use their platform for good, for spreading messages. They should be honest about what upsets them and call for change. I understand that music is an escape for many from these types of issues, but as celebrities seeing thousands of people from different places every night, why shouldn't they try to instill a little good where they go? Why shouldn't they speak to enact change? If anything, they are more capable of it than the typical person.
Whether it political or social, bands have a major opportunity at their feet. I think that, if they took a page from The 1975's bold playbook and applied it toward worthy causes they hold near and dear, a whole new world of change could be accomplished.
Again, in writing this, I know I am biased. I have loved The 1975 and all they stand for almost four years now. Heck, I even traveled five hours to Atlanta for them. I also acknowledge that they have their issues and have not always been perfect on these kinds of matters. However, I truly do believe that they deserve some credit for what they have done and that more bands should take note. Beyond performances and music, bands have so much room to advocate for the change they wish to see in the world. Like The 1975, they should take it and run with it.
Sure, their words and actions might not make any immediate difference in the world, but it's better than saying nothing.
I am grateful that The 1975 said, and continue to say, something.