Someone in city planning was laughing really hard in an office somewhere on Friday, July 31 as an odd mix of screaming teen girls and costumed Gen Con-ers took over downtown Indianapolis. Approximately 100,000 people wandered through the city streets this weekend. As the gamers and cosplayers settled in for the night, pandemonium erupted at Lucas Oil Stadium, where One Direction performed for the first time in the Hoosier State as part of its On the Road Again tour.
Tour-opener Icona Pop got the estimated crowd of 45,000 pumped up with its Swedish dance hits “All Night” and “I Love It” before America’s favorite boy band took the stage. The boys dispelled any rumors of a potential breakup by pulling a Beyonce and secretly dropping new single, “Drag Me Down,” the day of the show. The song features groovy guitar riffs, vocal echoes, and EDM builds. Showing the Directioners in Indy some extra love, the band delivered another surprise by performing said new single live—for the first time ever—at Lucas Oil. But the surprises didn’t stop there. One Direction also announced that it had finished its first album as a four-piece group the day prior to the Indianapolis show and told fans to expect a tour in summer 2016.
And just how did the band sound without that infamous fifth member? The remaining members—Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson—divided Zayn Malik’s solos and put on the show of the century. This band may be five years in (a long time in boy-band years), and critics may say that the members have lost their spark as the reigning musicians of the millennial generation, but Friday’s show proved that that is simply not the case. The set list included 26 of the band’s most popular pieces mixed with songs from its latest album, Four. What was most notable about the show was the crowd. The plethora of teenage girls was expected, but the mothers, fathers, and boyfriends present also seemed to be enjoying themselves. If it’s any indication, more than one parent was mouthing along with the lesser-known tracks. Even those who were “dragged there” were on their feet for most of the lively evening.
The energy was high from song one (“Clouds”: a sonic burst of drums and riffs) to the closing track and danceable favorite, “Best Song Ever.” Styles, Horan, Payne, and Tomlinson jumped around and danced (un-choreographed, of course) to every upbeat ditty they performed. Horan’s guitar skills weren’t lost on the crowd as he pulled out a flashy red electric for the 1970s-inspired rock anthem “Little Black Dress.”
One word to describe the On The Road Again tour? Fun. Payne and Tomlinson playfully threw water bottles and sodas on each other during their solos. Crowd interaction remained high throughout the show, with the band members speaking directly to a number of fans. During one bit, Styles pointed out Colts player Anthony Castonzo and poked fun at his giant-like stature. “Are you on a chair?! How tall are you? He’s nine feet tall. Look how tall he is! The girl behind you is like ‘we can’t see!’ Wow,” Styles joked. Payne took a few minutes to read different fan posters, some funny and some crude. A particularly humorous one featured various photos of Styles sporting a man bun and borrowed a line from Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” reading: “I don’t want none unless you got buns, hun!”
“Oohs” and “Awws” erupted in the stadium when the band stopped the set and sang to a young concertgoer on his fourth birthday. “We’ll see Cameron again when he turns 5,” Styles informed the crowd, hinting at that soon-to-be-announced 2016 tour.
One Direction may have just lost a band member, but it hasn’t lost any talent. Our evaluation: It might even be better as a four-piece.