While tiptoeing in the back of the standing–room–only, free–for–all crowd at the Fillmore on November 29th, The Internet looked larger–than–life. With “INTERNET” dramatically projected onto the screen behind the band in all–white capital letters, their initial presence, combined with the raucous cheers of the audience, was impressive.
The five-member band—lead vocalist , guitarist and vocalist , keyboardist and vocalist , bass guitarist , and drummer Christopher Smith—is composed of prolific singers and instrumentalists, and started out as an outgrowth of the hip-hop collective Odd Future. I first started listening to The Internet after they released their 2015 album , which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album. From the band’s explorations into funky neo–soul, to Syd’s emotion–filled vibey soprano, their sound was captivating. In a musical landscape where electronically–produced trap anthems reign, the thought-out feeling of live instrumentation the band conveys was refreshing. The Internet isn’t in-your–face—they don’t have to be. With their recently released album , which received wide acclaim from critics like and , The Internet’s strength lies in their soul–shaking grooves and heart–wrenching melodies.
As the performance started (and as I inched my way closer and closer to the front), the band established themselves as artists for the people. Wearing a distinctive white tee emblazoned with the words “Log Off”, Syd’s stage presence was undeniable. Refraining from over–the–top moves, she would close her eyes and cradle the mic in the center, often walking around to both sides of the stage singing to the first few rows. Her subdued command over the venue made the times when she climbed on top of the furniture – the stage was set up like a living room, with a sofa and coffee table – even more memorable. The pure emotion Syd brought forth as she crooned spoke for itself, and the audience was rapturously attentive.
Between each song, Syd conversed with the audience, making the artist-fan interaction ever the more real. At one point, she asked us if there were any couples, and if so, how long they’d been together. Upon hearing “three months!” amidst the chorus of responses, she let us know that three months was as long as you need to know if a relationship is going to last. At another point, she urged us to hydrate as she sipped from her water bottle, telling us that if “y’all need water, go get some water.” The authenticity of these little conversations lay in their unscriptedness. As the show continued, The Internet revealed themselves as regular people who made music rather than the imposing celebrities I saw when I entered the Fillmore.
One of the show’s highlights came about halfway through the set, when the band performed their contemplative song from Hive Mind. “This song is dedicated to Mac Miller,” Syd said before launching into the tender, emotional track – Miller, who passed away recently after a history of substance abuse and depression, had collaborated with both Syd and The Internet before on songs like (2013), (2013). For the duration of the song, the audience was taken to a different, more hopeful, place.
With their live instrumentation, virtuosic musical talent, and refreshingly sincere demeanor, the Internet redefined what concerts can look and sound like. Especially impressive was Christopher Smith’s drumming – the dependable and syncopated backdrop of hi-hats and snare rang out through the venue, yet blended effortlessly into the groovy intermingling of harmonies, guitar riffs, and chords. With each song came eccentric backgrounds on the screen behind the band (e.g. an entire song where the screen just showed a purple, flashing disco ball), showing that no one’s above being a bit odd. Performing a mix of The Internet songs old and new, as well as songs from Syd and Steve Lacy’s solo endeavors, the diversity in discography matched the variety of people in the millenial-heavy audience. From hipsters to preps to skaters and more, all types of folks united under the umbrella of The Internet’s soulful music.
The band finished off their hour-and-a-half long set with a string of danceable jams that the audience unabashedly sang every word to. As The Internet left the stage, a collective cry for “One more song!” arose from the crowd. But as the lights turned on and outro music started blasting out of speakers, their request remained unfulfilled. Instead, the crowd started streaming out of the venue while dancing to the only other piece of music that could unite all Philadelphians – Meek Mill’s .
A fitting end for a night meant for the people.