w/ Pale Waves, No Rome
Ascend Amphitheater; Nashville, TN
May 15, 2019
Review by Philip Obenschain (@pobenschain). Photos by Andrew Ha.
It’s hard to imagine now, but when genre-bending British indie pop outfit The 1975 first played Nashville, in May of 2014, they were still a relatively niche, on-the-rise band, having only released their eponymous debut album a few months prior, and coming off of a couple years of building a cult following with a series of great early EPs. Initially scheduled for Exit/In (how cool would that have been?), the group were bumped up to Marathon Music Works thanks to their mounting hype, but still managed to stop by Grimey’s earlier in the day for a backyard performance. It was clear even then that the band, who’ve been playing together since their teens in the early ’00s under various names and incarnations, were destined for massive stardom, and by the time they returned to town in the fall of 2016, in support of that year’s radio friendly and dance pop infused sophomore LP I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, selling out Municipal Auditorium, their magnetic appeal and meteoric rise was on full display.
For their third time in Nashville, in support of last year’s A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, and ahead of a forthcoming companion effort Notes on a Conditional Form, which, fitting, took place exactly five years to the day from their May 15 Music City debut in ’14, The 1975 returned as gargantuan an undeniable stars; somehow both beloved by a massive and fervent fanbase and a staple of alternative radio, and yet still seemingly underrated in the cultural conversation, an increasingly rare and earnest guitar band with pop leanings at odds with the direction of popular music in 2019. Selling out Ascend Amphitheater (we suspect they could’ve packed a much larger venue with ease), and with support from likeminded acts Pale Waves and No Rome, The 1975’s return was every bit the powerful, emotional, and triumphant affair we expected, impressively elevated beyond any show we’ve seen them play before, and, certainly a contender for one of the best we’ll see in town all year. Read on for our full review, and check out a full gallery of photos from the group’s transcendent Nashville return!