I think Steve Lacy's wearing leather pants. He might be my hero. An hour from now, he will have broken a guitar string, and Syd will be hard at work having the security hand out water to the standing room. But our story starts before The Internet, in all their funky and loving glory, hit the stage.
Our story begins with my 4'11" self wriggling to the front row of The Fillmore Philadelphia only to make friends with the two tallest men in the venue. They were having a conversation about Mac Miller's influence and I couldn't resist. Moments later they began freestyling over the background music. Couples broke apart to watch. Phones lit up in droves. The Fillmore was sucked into their vacuum of punchlines and good times.
Once the raps petered out, the taller of the two ushered me along to the front of the crowd as the lights dimmed and an apt purple took over the venue. Before I could thank what may well be my brother in spirit, The Internet hit the stage to a roar of cheers and shrieks. “Baby, I love her!” the woman beside me proclaims to her boyfriend, who agrees and begins to sway as Syd approaches the microphone. What came next was not a concert but a communion. The Internet landed in Philly to spread love and to make dancing chic once again. With Syd at the helm, we vacillated between intimate jam session and immaculate funk performance. For sure the band was putting on a show, but to call it a concert would be terribly impersonal. Did I mention Steve was wearing leather pants?
Hive Mind, among other things, houses some of the band’s most confident and affecting love songs to date. Their deepest grooves, velvetiest production, richest vocals, and staple drum lines all live on Hive Mind. Between “Come Together,” “Roll (Burbank Funk),” and “It Gets Better (With Time),” Hive Mind gave new meaning to lusting after the core of a track. The album revived our collective desire to step inside the plushest of instrumentals. The love songs land because they already feel lived-in, like the tread hallways of a shared studio apartment. With that in mind, on stage, The Internet members’ auras and joy evidently intertwined. They finally gave us the opportunity to live alongside them—and the portal to fully live within their music.
Syd’s wistful vocals, which have the uncanny ability to summon a well-worn and ages-old intimacy, whisk us into Patrick Paige II’s bass lines and Steve Lacy’s guitar licks. Every cymbal hit from Chris Smith is another seat at the table. Everything Matt Martians does is jovial and inviting. The Hive Mind tour does not create a sensation of a newfound family but rather reminds us that we have been connected by sound since before the first note was etched to stone. The performance was a welcome journey into the depths of the band’s own hive mind. Beyond adding layers of enjoyment to their music, the show seemed focused on making a mega-Megazord out of the band and the audience. At every turn, The Internet forced us to unravel and shed our insecurities. Even I, cantankerous old woman at heart, danced with strangers equally as enamored and enchanted by The Internet’s atmosphere. They made vulnerability welcome; they made vulnerability sexy.
“People don’t dance at parties no more, and it makes me sad,” Syd says to another roar of cheers. The couple next to me, the pair in love with Syd, turn to the women next to them and yell in each other’s faces as “La Di Da” cues up and we’re treated to a dynamic light show. Yellows, greens, and purples befall the stage and leak into the crowd as the three women declare in unison: “This is my shit!” And they dance. Now, we’re at an Internet show in Philadelphia, but between the lighting and the familiarity of dance parties past embedded into the DNA of “La Di Da,” we may well be in Paris, or some other European metropolitan city, traipsing in heels over cobbled streets en route to the discotheque.
Stepping inside “La Di Da,” we realize that between their live show and their on-wax recordings, The Internet have been creating master classes in time traveling, globetrotting experiences. We’re frolicking in Europe. Or, we’re riding shotgun in Syd’s beat-up car while her ex does as exes do (“Get Away”). Or, we’re holed up at home with our lover past the witching hour and nothing is more palpable than our desperation to get a night together (“Stay the Night”). Or, we’re shuffling through a first date (“Mood”). Or, we’re at The Fillmore, letting our hearts flow in time with the band. That’s the magic, isn’t it? Somehow, their hive mind has discovered every dot on the map our heartstrings are tethered to, and those pins just so happen to be the best settings for The Internet’s best songs. Wherever they’re traveling, we’re going with them—we’ve already been.
And then Steve Lacy breaks a guitar string, which is nothing if not endearing. With a grin, Syd explains Steve had simply gone too hard, and we’d want nothing less. The brief stall and imminent guitar change do not break up the flow of the show. If anything, it adds to the nebula The Internet have spun for us to float within. Calamity strikes and we come together. We’re sirened further into the music, even when no song is performed. It helps, too, that the crowd found The Internet’s every move worthy of celebration, but that forgiveness and bond are to the credit of the band, not to people’s inborn kindness.
At this point, Syd squats down and begins to banter with the couples in the crowd. Again, pulling us into the soul of the band’s music without so much as a single note sounding off. “That’s promising,” she tells a couple who have been together “for a while.” According to her, once you’re past the three-month mark, you should know “if you really wanna do this thing.” She speaks of commitment and yet we can’t help but transpose her statements to the show and to the music. Now living in the pit of Hive Mind, we’ve all committed to The Internet, to each other, and to this cathartic performance.
And then someone gets “too lit” on the balcony. And then Syd admits she once fainted at a Frank Ocean concert. “Stay hydrated, y’all,” she urges before lobbing a bottle of water up to the rafters. At this point in the show, we’re really experiencing Relationship Building 101 with The Internet. The performance becomes less so about the music, and more so about what we can do for and with each other. Which is why when Syd corrals security to start passing out water cups throughout the venue, we realize the highlight of the evening has nothing to do with music and everything to do with emotional investment. Syd loves us back. A rare and beautiful thing to be, that is, loved back.
“This is a song I wrote about depression,” Syd tells us, introducing “It Gets Better (With Time).” She talks briefly about her struggles and the truth of time healing all wounds. She promises us that we will all feel better soon, that we are always so close to feeling better. The lights nearly come up as the band performs Hive Mind’s most moving record. Thinking back on the night, it only makes sense that we end the concert proper with such a bare moment. We’ve become part of the hive mind, and that means taking the tortured with the effervescent. As it stands, we want it all. We’re committed.
The band dedicates “It Gets Better (With Time)” to Mac Miller, to galloping claps and shouts. The bevy of “We love you!”s simmer, but only to make room for another wellspring of love, running as deep as The Internet’s music, to blanket The Fillmore. “I’ve been listening to Mac since YouTube Mac,” someone says to me, seeing my lock screen is a shot from Mac Miller’s Vulture profile. His eyes a touch red, I nod and a knowing silence befalls the venue. Syd tells us this track was one of Malcolm’s favorites. We could not get any closer.
Miraculously, I did not cry. I didn’t need to; The Internet had us crowded at the heart of their music and at the heart there is no room to wallow. Instead, there is a protective and healing energy. And there is good fun at the heart of it all. There is the reminder to enjoy because the joy is so fleeting and we’re always wishing for our next happiness. That night at The Fillmore, The Internet were our past, present, and future happiness. We celebrated life that evening, even when the songs were not dedicated to those we’ve lost to the fire. Inhibition-free, as one hive mind, we let our hearts flow.