Jodie Averis reviews Pale Waves’ electrifying take on Rock City.
It seems fitting that on the eve of Valentines Day, the artists that graced the infamous Rock City stage had an overarching message of love and acceptance. Despite the dreary weather conditions of the cold Sunday night, there was absolutely nothing dreary about any of the female-fronted acts (much to my delight, THREE!) that performed in front of a sea of eager onlookers.
One thing that I had noticed prior to attending the gig was that Pale Waves’ have chosen appropriate supporting acts. New kids on the block BITTERS have sonic comparisons to Pale Waves, with their sound being cemented in the realms of indie-rock. Their performance, albeit understandably slightly short, was pleasant, and I’m interested to see what material they will release next following their two songs already on Spotify. The second support act, Hot Milk, is a dynamic duo from Manchester who sang their ‘sad songs with happy melodies’ with swagger and gusto. I was particularly impressed with their opener, I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I’M DEAD, which is taken from their September EP. The crowd reciprocated their infectious energy, and their cheeky interactions with each other acted as a successful warm up for the headliners. Hot Milk’s music is about genuine expression as well as creating a space of tolerance; arguably, this is what the rock scene should be all about. Their projects are refreshing to see, particularly as a female rock fan.
Pale Waves opened their set with Change, the first song taken from their sophomore album Who Am I?. This acted as the perfect opener as it is representative of a band undergoing ‘change’, as they evolved their sound from their quintessential synth-wave indie pop to pop-punk led tracks. Initially, I was apprehensive about how the quartet would organise their set list to accommodate the radically different sounds of Who Am I? and My Mind Makes Noises, however I found the transitions to be seamless. Change dissolved into fan favourite Television Romance, and my anxieties faded. The band showcased a perfect blend of Who Am I?, including catchy pop-rock track Easy, angsty Fall to Pieces and ballad She’s My Religion.
”Having enjoyed their venture into six-string stacked music, it appears that Pale Waves have found their sound”
Front woman Heather Baron-Gracie alerted the crowd that Pale Waves are planning to release new material within the coming year, and teased the crowd with an unreleased track called Jealousy. Despite having never heard it before, by the second chorus the crowd sang along with her, screaming ‘jealousy is my new best friend’. The sound of this track is similar to that of You Don’t Own Me with its thrashing guitars and energy, which has left me excited for their new album. Having enjoyed their venture into six-string stacked music, it appears that Pale Waves have found their sound. However, having just sang praises of You Don’t Own Me, which was easily my favourite track from Who Am I?, I was somewhat disappointed to discover that it was left off of the set list. Baron-Gracie had teased on her Twitter in the past that she was excited to play it live, and I believe that if it had been played, the crowd would have received its’ infectious energy and passion well.
Having first seen the band in 2018 at YNOT festival, it is clear to see that Pale Waves are cementing themselves in the indie scene as consistent and entertaining. I have watched them grow from somewhat shy, using genderless pronouns in their lyrics, to firmly and proudly staying true to themselves with the inclusion of same sex pronouns in songs about love interests. I only anticipate that their next record will provide another tour with even more electricity.
Edited by: Amrit Virdi