Concert Or Festival? We Figured Out The Best Way To See Your Fav Band Live

As avid music lovers and listeners, we often find ourselves having (or obsessing over) that ONE artist or that ONE band that seems like they were created just for you, just for your ears. For me, it’s The 1975. I’ve been fascinated by this Manchester, U.K.-bred band for the past three years for countless reasons, but allured by them for their inability to be defined to just one genre.

If you take The 1975 at face value for their major pop-esque sounding songs, such as “Girls,” “Chocolate,” or “The Sound,” you’ll see them as just that: a pop band. But if you actually listen to their full two albums, you will quickly discover they take elements from indie, alternative, rock, gospel, ambient, and even hip-hop genres, often times puzzling music critics for their all-encompassing records that transcend genre boundaries. Performers like The 1975 who have been best friends and a band for over 13 years (aka since preteen years), write all their own music, create an art show with their stage and a put on a concert that could never be restricted to a “pop band.”

This band is transforming pop music by making it deep and significant again, lyrically as well as sonically, and overall redefining what “pop” can to be.

I had the opportunity to go to two The 1975 shows recently: the 97X Next Big Thing music festival they headlined, and the second night on the last stop of their very long American tour at the Hard Rock Live venue in Orlando, Florida. Both were incredible experiences in their own right, but I found it to be a unique experience to witness and feel the differences between a festival vs. normal concert. So which is better atmosphere to hear your favorite band?


Day 1: The 97X Next Big Thing Music Festival in Tampa, FL

The crowd grew throughout the day as bigger artists took the stage. It was clear many people were there to see The 1975 later that night, but other impressive acts such as newcomer Bishop Briggs, and the classic folk-natured The Head and the Heart put on crowd-pleasing performances. An hour before The 1975’s set was supposed to start, the pit filled with men and women, ranging from ages 15 to 40.

It was an eclectic group of people, many of them drunk and just ready for the main course.

The lights dimmed and the static, ambient humming noise The 1975 notoriously plays minutes before they come on stage began. It permeated the amphitheater and picked the energy up. I was wide-eyed and amazed when they finally took their place on stage and continued to be in awe throughout the entire show.

Like the three live shows before, it was an incredible stage light show as lead singer Matty Healy put on a wild yet humbly melodramatic performance.

Healy, along with guitarist Adam Hann, drummer George Bedford, and Bass/Keyboarder Ross MacDonald, played a short but very sweet setlist of upbeat songs such as, “UGH!” “Love Me,” “Sex,” and “Chocolate,” but surprised the less familiar fans with live performances of more ambient-based tracks such as, “Please Be Naked” and “I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It,” which offered a calming moment for the crowd.

I was pleasantly surprised that they played these songs on a festival version of their set list. But some fans in the pit were less thrilled about the ambient tracks.

“What song is this? You having fun just playing on the keyboard Matty?” a drunk 30-year-old man said.

I laughed to myself and thought how this would never happen at a normal tour show because their avid fans (like myself) just wouldn’t put up with it. I realized festival shows offer artists a quick set time to show off their well-known hits, but not enough to fully engage with the crowd.

At a festival show, the band can’t hit that “sweet spot” in a set list like one played at a concert.


Day 2: The last official tour date of the The 1975 American tour in Orlando, FL

Running on four hours of sleep after #raging at the 97x NBT festival, I checked Twitter and found that fans had been lining up to see The 1975 for the past two days. More than 200 fans were in line at this point. It was ONLY 9 a.m. I realized I have no chance of being front row.

I decided to head to Orlando around 3 p.m. instead for a “decent” spot in the pit. I waited with hundreds of fans for four hours, watching the line behind wrap around Universal Studio’s CityWalk entrance.

All dressed in dark colored hipster, trendy apparel, we, the dedicated fans, were creating a subculture ourselves.

Hours later, we entered the Hard Rock Live venue. It was a claustrophobic, hot mess as people piled in and overly excited and enthusiastic fans got extremely territorial over getting the best spot in the pit. A girl next to me just straight up had a panic attack from being so close to everyone, began sobbing, broke out in rashes and hyperventilated. People passed out from dehydration and overheating.

After The 1975 came out and played their first two songs, the lights came on and Matty Healy had to actually stop the crowd and help direct the pit to back up a few steps.

The crowd was much crazier compared to the festival, but I think it’s because they were invested and adored this band. Each fan claims this band as their own.

The concert version of their show was much more intimate compared to their festival show. They played 22 songs and in between every few songs The 1975 and the crowd would experience true moments of connection — times where Matty spoke out to the crowd about politics, social awareness, acceptance, mental health and the opinion that we should be “loving someone” rather than hating.

They played songs off the EPs, the debut album, and their most recent sophomore album. There was more time as compared to a festival. Though the music transcended through both shows as being the most important and moving part, there was a deeper connection with fans at the Orlando concert. The fan’s passion was there and The 1975 respectfully and energetically gave the same back.


~~~ side note ~~~~

I met The 1975 when I won a meet-and-greet contest at the festival show.

I was ecstatic to win an opportunity to meet my favorite band, but we were told we only had about 30 seconds to meet, take a picture and say bye.

After snapping a photo, my nerves got the best of me. I turned to Matty and couldn’t think of anything better in the moment to say besides, “thank you for your music.” He nodded back and said, “Yes, yes you are welcome.” But I guess that’s all you really have to say to your favorite artist that creates important music, because music is just that: important.