November 28, 2016 | 5:00am
Revention Music Center
November 26, 2016
It’s easy to see the potential for greatness in The 1975, largely because there are many times when they are close to greatness. When the lights are flashing and the crowd is screaming out the lyrics to “Sex,” they feel like they should be one of the biggest bands in the world. That “The Sound” wasn’t more popular is both surprising and not; it seems that as good as going retro sounds, it’s still not the music of the masses. Still, in a world that sees Carly Rae Jepsen playing a half-filled House of Blues, selling out two nights at Revention is still mighty impressive; even Lorde didn’t try to do that.
There are some bands in this world that get by on just being incredible live without the need for bells and whistles. The bands that can play on any stage, any size, with no backdrop or video walls, and just kill for an hour because they’re that good at performing live. Think of bands like Bad Religion, a group that's so insanely talented that they go out and kill it every night and make it look easy in the process.
The 1975 are not one of these bands, but I think they might just be the best band at the other end of the spectrum: There’s no band around right now that mixes music and visuals as perfectly as they do (other than Godspeed You! Black Emperor, which I’m aware is an insane frame of reference for a retro-pop British boy band, but if you’ve seen both, you’ll know I’m right). Their lighting and graphic design are immaculate, and you’ll likely not see a more beautiful show on a pure visual level.
Most bands playing venues the size of Revention have production these days, but it rarely feels essential. So many acts use video walls as a way to fill space rather than actually do anything interesting with them. But The 1975 use their visuals to help create moments onstage, things that last a lot longer in the brain than simply hearing a song you really like does. Even if you hate them — and I get that there are many reasons to do so — I think at the very least they deserve respect for trying to elevate the average concert experience.
Mostly, though, I just want to see what they could do with a bigger budget on a larger stage. Of course, to get to that point, they need to write that one transcendent single that explodes them into the mainstream. They’re a band that has a lot of songs worth paying attention to, but are missing their “Pompeii” or “Radioactive.” For most fans of the band, getting to see them in the relative intimacy of Revention is something special, but just imagine what they could do at Toyota Center.
Personal Bias: “She’s American” has a guaranteed spot on my Best Songs of 2016 list. Is “The Sound” a better song? Sure, but I like “She’s American” more and it’s my list. We don’t always have to be critics.
The Crowd: Teens and the parents who love them.
Overheard in the Crowd: “I’m number 8,” said one girl to another outside the venue, already in line for the show on Sunday night. Yes, there were people who were going to wait 24 hours-plus to see the band. In fairness, the weather was pretty good.
Random Notebook Dump: I’m not a save-the-Earth type — I’m one of those “doesn’t recycling create more waste?” types, if you must know — but even I was shocked at how disgusting the outside of Revention was after the crowd moved inside. The collected hours of waiting to get into the show meant trash everywhere, with bottles and discarded food containers in abundance. Hell, someone even left a jacket behind, but at least I saw someone down on his luck scoop it up. I know cleaning up after yourself is hard work and that there are people who get paid to clean up after you, but it’s still not a good look, Houston.