Live Review: The 1975 with PLOY at DC9, Washington DC – 30th March 2013

By on Monday, 8th April 2013 at 2:00 pm

“You guys are so loud, I can’t hear myself!” These were the words of Matthew Healy, frontman and lyricist of Manchester-based band The 1975 in front of a sold-out crowd on a recent Saturday night at Washington’s DC9. Grinning ear to ear when he said this, you just knew it was one of those moments that was sure to be remembered by him and his band.

As explained by Healy himself in this interview with me in their dressing room just hours before, just years before the band had only decided to release music and try to break out of their previous mode of just gigging and being popular on the local Manchester scene. Two big things have happened this year that have proven the decision was a good one: on the strength of their live performances at SXSW 2013, they became indie darlings in America overnight, while back home their lead single off their newest EP ‘Music for Cars’ cracked the top 40 UK singles chart. Not bad for a couple boys who previously preferred to write and skulk around in Healy’s darkened bedroom…

PLOY Washington live

We missed the first opener Midnight Faces as we were down U Street getting some drinks, but we arrived just in time to catch a full set by local electronic duo PLOY, made up of Gil Wojcik (bass / electronics) and Justin Victoria (vocals / synths / electronics). It could just be post-SXSW 2013 fallout and having seen so many great guitar bands that don’t use synths, but I’m having a hard time stomaching electronic-based acts. My friend who came along with me said, “I’m expecting to have Erasure coming out of their laptop”. We also commented on their song ‘X I X’ (read ‘Nineteen’) as a recent recollection, as they look like pretty young guys. (Sorry, we’re being snarky older women.)

Soulful pop crooning by Victoria was good if not exemplary, and I very much appreciated Wojcik breaking out a real live bass guitar to play at the proceedings because, let’s face it, even bass can be synthesised if that’s your intention. I can see them becoming fixtures at the U Street Music Hall dance nights if they play their cards right, as I can see that crowd lapping it up, but there weren’t any obvious standouts from their set.

The 1975 Washington live 1

As I commented to staff while I was watched The 1975 soundcheck at DC9, it’s been a very long time since a Manchester band has graced their stage. Nearly two and a half years, if my calculations are right. This tour was scheduled before SXSW, so there was no predicting how they would go down in Austin. Maybe the band themselves knew and had the confidence within themselves that it was perfect time for their close-up? Either way, the post-SXSW American tour ended up being a entirely triumphant one, with sold-out dates not only in DC but also in New York. And let’s face it, when you’ve captured the imagination of one of the two largest music cities in the U.S., you must be doing something right!

As I commented about having seen bands both in daytime and nighttime at SXSW, there was considerable excitement in me getting to see the band hold court in my hometown. Even better, this time, Adam Hann’s synthesiser was in full working order, compared to the Blah Blah Blah Science show I’d seen on the Wednesday at SXSW, which Healy explained in our interview was probably to do with their gear having been bounced around on the plane ride over. That night in DC, the band sounded, in a word, brilliant. I’ve heard good sets at DC9, and I’ve heard great sets. This was a great set: it was insanely energetic, as the band whipped the crowd into a dancing frenzy that became a huge singalong around their singles. Healy, revered by the Washington crowd to near god-like status by the second song they played, was even able to shush the crowd quiet enough to give us this solo rendition of ‘Woman’.


Rather hilariously, after he asked for quiet for ‘Woman’, a man shouted, “just as long you don’t forget ‘Sex’!” Healy, smiling broadly, replied with a suitable punchline: “who could forget about ‘Sex’?” Haha. Another source of humour for the night were two tall, young fanboys. Both were dressed in denim and seemed to be facing off to who was going to be the bigger 1975 fan for the night. It started as disconcerting – to be honest, I wasn’t sure if the two boys were totally pissed and would jump onstage and do something to cause the band or their instruments bodily harm – but with no such things happening, it was more so overwhelmingly gratifying for a music editor like who, to be honest, was quite concerned that every punter there besides a small handful would know any other song but ‘The City’. These two, plus many others in the club, knew all the words to every song that The 1975 have released to date. I know the melodies of all of them but even I don’t know the words by heart! This wasn’t lost on the band, as last Wednesday Healy gave us a shout-out on Zane Lowe’s Radio1 show as the most memorable of their American tour, even over SXSW. So there, Austin! To the last shouted “she’s got a boyfriend anyway!”, it was definitely the best time I’ve had IN A LONG TIME at a show in DC.

The 1975 Washington live 2

The band will be returning to America in June for a month-long tour as support for LA’s The Neighbourhood; Zane Lowe recently commented that “that’s a good-looking group of men on the road there”. But forget the good looks; The 1975 is a sure thing when it comes down to it and you’d be a fool not to catch them on tour before…well, just look what happened to Two Door Cinema Club.

After the cut: the 1975’s set list.

The 1975 Set List:
The City
Settle Down
Heart Out
She Way Out
Woman (Matthew Healy solo)

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2 Responses

2:07 pm
8th April 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: Live Review: The 1975 @the1975 with PLOY at DC9 @dc9nightclub, Washington DC – 30th March 2013:

1:54 pm
10th April 2013

listening to @the1975 and thinking about the gig here in Washington 2 weekends ago. absolutely brilliant!

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