The 1975’s Matty Healy commands attention at Lollapalooza, drummer George Daniel deserves applause

Healy wasn’t always steady on his feet, but his showmanship remained fully intact. Daniel’s drumming was the linchpin to the whole endeavor.

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Matty Healy performs with The 1975 on day two of Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Friday night’s headlining set by English band The 1975 illustrated why fans have such heated opinions about lead singer Matty Healy, who is either revered or reviled, depending on who you ask. Whether onstage or off, Healy makes headlines for his comments and behavior.

With the band’s 75-minute performance being livestreamed and projected in black-and-white on massive video screens in Grant Park, Healy smoked cigarettes, sat in a chair for part of a song, frequently drank from a flask and what appeared to be a wine bottle, made a joke about the prospect of fans being carried out on stretchers, and included a reference to fellatio in a song introduction. He also sang quite well.

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Matty Healy performs with The 1975 on day two of Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

During the song “Robbers,” from the band’s 2013 self-titled album, Healy spotted a guy in the photo pit and ran down to give him a quick hug. Social media posts identified him as Tom DeLonge of rock band Blink-182. After the song ended, Healy told the crowd that he had just met one of his heroes and someone “who inspired me to talk about my d---.”

About midway through the show, as Healy took a big swig from the bottle and then messily spit some of it out before wiping his chin, one couldn’t help but wonder whether this performance was going to become a trainwreck or a cherished memory for longtime fans, who might have also seen the band play at Lollapalooza in 2014.

Healy kept it together. He wasn’t always steady on his feet, but his showmanship remained fully intact as the band delivered muscular, well-oiled renditions of songs from throughout its career, including “Chocolate,” “Sex,” “Give Yourself a Try” and “Oh Caroline.”

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Fans cheer and dance as The 1975 performs on day two of Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The singer’s bandmates Adam Hann (guitar) and Ross MacDonald (bass) were consistently strong throughout the night, and drummer George Daniel was the linchpin to the whole endeavor, playing in a style that paired the propulsion of a locomotive with the nuance of a watercolorist.

As the late Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones or Larry Mullen Jr. of U2 have shown the world, a charismatic frontman tends to get most of the attention, but the drummer is the true engine that makes a rock band succeed onstage. Daniel delivered an amazing performance on Friday night, but he won’t get many headlines for it.

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Matty Healy performs with The 1975 on day two of Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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Matty Healy performs with The 1975 on day two of Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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