Review: Years & Years Shatter the Looking Glass and Bring Their Vivid World to D.C.

A journey through the vivid, delicate skies strung through frontman Olly Alexander’s words.

The night expanded and wrapped around the vulnerable lyrics sticking to the slick skin of those who attended the sold-out Years & Years concert at 9:30 Club Saturday evening.

Olly giggled as the crowd roared and twisted to “Take Shelter,” a track that highlights a complicated relationship where the singer desires his or her lover to take shelter in his or her body, but at the same time wishes to strip away the ties of the relationship.

During the show, the manager of the band had to leave early due to his girlfriend going into labor. Olly Alexander told the crowd, and then offered his best wishes to them. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)

The song drowned all of us in the fabric of the bittersweet relationship—one where there was no escape, the mind and the heart colliding and crashing against the bed frame, the bits of reggae and house music transforming the lyrics into a chant more appropriate for the dance floor than the darkness of a solitary room.

I quickly became a part of the “Olly Admirers Alliance” when I witnessed both his pure joy and indescribable pain in songs like “Border” and “Desire,” holding his stomach briefly, his features scrunched up in an expression as if Atlas’ curse, the Greek Titan that was damned to hold up the sky, was etched across his chest.

The intimate and stripped song “Eyes Shut” strengthened the idea that this band takes the pain and memories of the audience into its palms, ultimately becoming the architects of ache.

Tei Shi, the opening act of the night, joined Years & Years in the middle of their set for a classic cover of “Breathe” by Blu Cantrell.

Tei Shi performs "Nevermind the End" at the 9:30 Club. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Tei Shi performs “Nevermind the End” at the 9:30 Club. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)

Tei Shi, a muse and goddess, makes “sensual bedroom pop.” She sunk the crowd into her hazy and emotional world early in the evening, her short raven hair playing with the lights. She moved fluidly around the stage, unaware of the long cardigan slipping off her shoulders, a queen riding the winds and decorating the clouds with her unchained spirit.

Fans watch Years & Years perform their set at the 930 Club in Washington, D.C. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Fans watch Years & Years perform their set at the 930 Club in Washington, D.C. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)



Two simple words that could easily be brushed off or made into an anthem, they are the two prominent gods who bore the British synth-pop band that is Years & Years.

Olly Alexander dances and grooves while performing. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Olly Alexander dances and grooves while performing. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)

Communion manifested itself in the girl who held up a poster reading “Thank you for reminding us that we are all Kings and Queens,” which Olly took and placed on the stage, the drone of the crowd signifying a sign of approval.

The feeling of communion reached its full capacity as everyone chanted “King! King! King!” hauling the group back on stage to play their massive single from their album, Communion, which has more than 155 million plays on Spotify.

Drummer Dylan Bell, bounced in his seat as Olly gave his final goodbye, smiling and waving his fingers to the packed venue. Bathed in gold, keyboard and bassist Michael Godsworthy and synthesizer Emre Türkmen, led the audience back to the dock, leaving them with their hearts fresh and begging for more.

As the concert came to a close, audience members were left anchored to each other, crying, their trembling fingers wiping away tears and making a final backward glance to the stage that had just held the young gods, who live underneath dance floors, tattooing the magic of the night onto their chests.

Karla Casique is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at

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