On September 8, 2013, floppy-haired then-One Direction member Louis Tomlinson played in an exhibition soccer match at Celtic Park in Glasgow. Tomlinson is a decent footballer whose talents got him as far as the Doncaster Rovers reserve team that year, but touring the world in a boyband hadn’t prepared him for the rough-and-tumble rigors of big-boy games. Early in the second half, when trying to clear the ball near his own penalty area, he was scythed down by Gabriel Agbonlahor, a professional footballer and large man who has played three times for the England national team. Upon feeling the full weight of Agbonlahor’s sturdy frame, Tomlinson fell in a heap to the ground and writhed in what appeared to be genuine pain. He tried to walk it off, flicking his hair back across his forehead repeatedly, but he had to be replaced soon after.
Now, this isn’t a story about Louis Tomlinson’s football skills really. We’re here to talk about his tweet this morning, in which, upon scanning the newly released lineup for this year’s Coachella Festival, he asked a vital question.
Where the fuck indeed. Bands are good, and Louis Tomlinson would like to know where they are. Someone please tell Louis where the bands are. They are not on the Coachella lineup, not this year, so where are they all? If you have seen any bands, Louis would like to know where precisely the fuck they are.
Tomlinson, as you may or may not know, has a vested interest in the success of “bands.” Despite becoming a solo act in the wake of 1D, he has made what might broadly be considered “band” music, the type of thing that people who like “bands” might not notice as non-“band” music upon hearing it for the first time. You may have once struggled through a chat with someone at a bar and ended up asking what kind of music they like, and that person may have looked you in the eye and said: “Bands.” Tomlinson wants to make music for that person.
Here is his latest single, “Miss You.”
Here, Tomlinson accentuates his Northern accent and dresses like a man who just blindly stole what he could from Liam Gallagher’s tumble drier before fleeing in terror. He says, you will notice, the word “fucking.” In the video, he is seen having what some people call “a night out with the lads.” He drinks beer with an inadequate amount of head, but does not care to move to another, less shit, bar. This is the life of a man in a band. And there are no bands at Coachella this year.
But, while this is a blog about Louis Tomlinson’s tweet and the new, edgy career that gave rise to it, these details feel like a digression from the real thrust of things. After picking himself up off the Celtic Park turf that day in 2013, he felt Agbonlahor’s arm around his skinny shoulders. Agbonlahor had seemingly kicked Tomlinson because he was a child in a boyband, and when the English see handsome innocence kicked out of a child on grass, they respond by letting out some sort of guttural noise: “OOOOAAAAAAAYY,” usually. It’s supposed to be a cheer, but it more closely resembles a loud, threatening yawn. Gabriel Agbonlahor is the type of player who lives for that noise. It his his fuel. And, in some way, Tomlinson knew this about Agbonlahor, and he knew this about life. So he walked off the pitch like a grown-up—like a lad in a band, not a boy in a boyband.
Trouble is, after Agbonlahor received the inevitable death threats from cultish One Direction fans, BBC Sport wrote a report on Tomlinson’s injury and its aftermath. In one snippet, a famous Irish football coach seemed intent on telling the press that the singer was “fine.” Obviously, not fine. But fine:
Martin O'Neill, the former Aston Villa and Celtic manager who was his boss for the day, said: "Agbonlahor smashed into him and he picked himself up and then was ill in the dressing-room area, but he's not too bad now I think.
"He had to rush off, but I think he's fine.
"He doesn't know where he is, but he's fine. He was genuinely ill, but he's OK now."
This, I fear, is the fate of Louis Tomlinson. He is fine. He had to rush off, but I think he’s fine. He says “fucking” now, and he likes to drink beer, but he’s fine. Really. He wants to know where the bands are. He was genuinely ill, but he wants to have some beers and watch the bands.
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