Stepping into Dickies Arena the night of Sept. 16 felt like entering the 2010s, with flannels wrapped around waists, vintage band tees, fishnet tights plastered with rips and chunky Doc Martens waiting to crush the feet of whoever dares stand too close to you in the pit. With a flash of light, the lead singer of Arctic Monkeys struts onto stage, and the audience is transported back into the Tumblr era.
A U.S. performance for Arctic Monkeys is rare, causing an uproar from fans as the band’s 2023 North America tour was announced earlier this year. Their performance was well worth the wait and the band provided an electric performance with mesmerizing set design. Irish post-punk band Fontaines D.C. opened up the Fort Worth concert with their most popular song “Jackie Down the Line” as bright green and red stage lights cast a psychedelic hue over the audience. The band’s gritty instrumentals combined with lead singer Grian Chatten’s haunting vocals and energetic tambourine playing resulted in a surprisingly tender set that made the packed arena feel intimate.
Their lyricism is akin to storytelling, and the band doesn’t shy away from topics such as political strife in Britain and Ireland and historical atrocities. The energy exploded during “I Love You,” a song that doubles as a love song and a toxic ode to their home country. As they sang, “Selling genocide and half-cut pride, I understand / I had to be there from the start, I had to be the fucking man,” the crowd went wild, jumping to the fast-paced rhythm and the pulsating white stage lights. Despite attending the concert for Arctic Monkeys, the energy Fontaines D.C. expelled into the audience was palpable.
As the lights dimmed once again, fans erupted in screams as the Arctic Monkeys walked onto stage, with their lead singer trailing behind, wearing a simple suit and tinted sunglasses. Right as he stepped up to his microphone, frontman Alex Turner’s charisma and sex appeal was apparent, drawing fans into a state of frenzy.
Their setlist consisted of a hearty mix of songs from previous albums and their new album “The Car.” Their alternative rock sound is amplified by the jazz and classical music influences on this album, creating ballads fit for the modern age. The band began their set with “Sculpture of Anything Goes,” allowing a dark aura to settle over the buzzing crowd. This track strays away from the retro and airy sounds of the rest of the track and utilizes more electronica. Not opening the set with a more popular song worked in the band’s favor, allowing audience members to bask in the ominous atmosphere and Turner’s breathy vocals.
While tracks from the newest album had audiences swaying and holding their loved ones close, songs from their most popular albums “AM” and “Favorite Worst Nightmare” turned the arena into a giant mosh pit. The performance for “Fluorescent Adolescent” was electric, bringing that Tumblr-era nostalgia back in full swing. The lyrics “You used to get it in your fishnets / Now you only get in your night dress / Discarded all the naughty nights for niceness” explains the Tumblr era teens’ exit from a time of fanfiction and reposts of grunge mood boards to adulthood. Arctic Monkeys transports the audience to a simpler, more exciting time.
Throughout the tour, internet jokes began circulating around Turner’s burnout during performances of the band’s most popular song, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High,” due to his improvisation and random tempo changes. The Fort Worth audience was no exception, filled with fans belting at incorrect times due to Turner’s mischief. While it might be annoying to some fans, the shared embarrassment fans felt resulted in a sense of community. The giggles and chorus of “oh no’s” radiating through the crowd was hilarious and endearing.
The night climaxed when the giant, blindingly bright mirror ball labeled “Monkeys” dropped from the ceiling during “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball,” engulfing the room in shimmering shards of light. This moment, along with the ten-minute intense guitar and bass guitar solo during the “Body Paint” outro, was insanity. Turner and bass guitarist Nick O’Malley have insane chemistry on stage, their instrumental prowess simultaneously battling one another while engaging with audience members through charismatic facial expressions and physicality.
The ambiance that Arctic Monkeys created can only be described as cinematic. The night felt as if fans of all ages jumped into a coming-of-age film. While the instrumentals and vocals were unbelievable, it was the mood and energy the band was able to curate that made the night feel straight off the big screen, and had audience members wanting to ask Alex Turner “R U Mine?”