“What would we do without a little bit of drama, right?” The 1975′s Matty Healy asks the fans swarming under him at Lollapalooza’s Bud Light Stage. The Manchester band are closing out the second night (August 4) of the festival right across the park from Kendrick Lamar, who is shutting down the festival’s massive T-Mobile stage. But when Healy remarks that he’s grateful fans have “stuck” with them and came to watch the band (despite the “GOAT” playing at the same time, he adds), it’s hard to tell if he’s talking about the stage time conflict, or the recent controversy surrounding the band.
It’s been less than a month since the quartet were officially banned from playing in Malaysia, after Healy criticised the Malaysian government and its anti-LGBTQ laws onstage and then kissed bassist Ross MacDonald during their headline set. The performance was immediately cut short and the entire festival was cancelled. Now the band are facing a looming lawsuit aimed at the band compensating the festival for its cancellation. Despite the “drama” however, they seem to be taking it all on the chin – but not taking it very seriously.
Towards the second half of their set, as they perform their buoyant guitar track, ‘It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You’, the band put on their typical tour gag, with Healy acting as if he’s about to say something controversial right before the band stops him. Tonight Healy says, “You want my travel tip? Don’t go to…” right before he’s cut off as they play the opening riffs of the track.
Antics aside, The 1975 are truly at their best when they lean into their biggest songs, riling up the crowd with well-worn hits like ‘The Sound’ and ‘Robbers’. It’s what the audience clearly wants to focus on this evening, and Healy even notes, “Oh right, OK, you want The 1975”. Despite that realisation, however, he still has a few more speeches to add. Before the slow-burning unrequited love ballad ‘Somebody Else’, Matty discusses the trials of “sexual ownership”, noting that people will call you a “misogynist” or a “crazy bitch” if you feel that form of ownership over your partner. At another point, he praises the Lolla crowd for their ability to connect over music instead of being “on the internet talking about things they don’t like”.
The set continues this way, with Healy wobbling with wine at one point and balancing a cigarette at another. He runs to the photo pit to embrace Tom Delonge, who happens to be in attendance, calling him his “hero” and adding that Delonge was “the person who inspired me to talk about my dick as much as I do”. But the main spectacle here are the festival attendees, ones that seem to be split when it comes to the band’s recent controversies. One girl watching is wearing a ‘I Hate Matty Healy’ tee, which could be an ironic statement or a genuine declaration. It’s the same confusion you’ll see under social media posts about the band or hear in the line as you wait for a drink at the Chicago Fest. Is it all just a gag or are The 1975 still at their very best? As the band plays the closing lines of ‘Give Yourself A Try’, the jury is still out.
The 1975 played:
‘Looking For Somebody (To Love)’
‘I’m In Love With You’
‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’
‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’
‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’
‘Love It If We Made It’
‘Give Yourself A Try’