Music Reviews

LIVE: Pale Waves @ Bodega

Fresh from playing to a sold-out crowd with The 1975 at New York’s Maddison Square Gardens, Pale Waves are leading the pack when it comes to the recent resurgence in female lead grunge. Fronted by guitarist and vocalist, Heather Baron-Gracie, they are becoming quite the talking point within the music industry and, judging by their recent show at Nottingham’s The Bodega, it is only a matter of time before they become one of the go-to bands of the next 12 months.

“Counting The 1975 and Wolf Alice as label-mates is quite the achievement”

Hailed as trailblazers in the millennial pop-grunge music movement, they are a part of the industry dominating Dirty Hit Records family. Counting The 1975 and Wolf Alice as label-mates is quite the achievement with both bands reaching critical and commercial acclaim with their most recent releases. The show at The Bodega was only the second night into their first headlining UK & European tour. Still yet to release a full-length album, they have managed to produce quite the following from the release of just two songs, ‘There’s a honey’ and ‘Television Romance’.

“Female grunge is very much alive and well in 2017”

Walking onto the dimly lit stage, Pale Waves were greeted to an audience high on teen angst and anchored by their Doc Martens. Looking around it was easy to see that a few members of the crowd were probably not alive when some of the band’s influences were at the height of their fame in the 80s and 90s. If you count The Cranberries, the Cocteau Sisters and Hole as key players in female lead alternative music, then rest assured that as soon as front woman Heather Baron-Gracie stepped into the millennial pink spot light with her heavy eye make-up and corpse-like appearance, female grunge is very much alive and well in 2017.

“A stark contrast from the band’s dark aesthetic and their whimsical lyrics.”

Sporting tartan culottes, brothel creepers and a The Cure band t-shirt, Baron-Gracie opened the set with Pale Waves’ latest release, ‘Television Romance’. The song idolises the concept of having a ‘television romance’, the kind of love that you would only see on screen. What was really interesting to watch was the stark contrast from the band’s dark aesthetic and their whimsical lyrics. Baron-Gracie has the stage presence of a woman who doesn’t believe in the love she writes about, she rolls her eyes as she sings the clichéd lyrics and slumps over the mic because even she does not have the energy to invest in this perfect ideal anymore.

“Baron-Gracie has the ability to draw the crowd in”

You would not be too mistaken to think that your listening to The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan when the band get going into their second song, ‘Kiss’. Baron-Gracie has the ability to draw the crowd in with her lower register and then completely shake the room with a banshee-esque high note. This talent was really showcased throughout ‘Kiss’ but also in later songs ‘Heavenly’ and ‘New Years Eve’.

“It was an effective paradox to the rest of the set”

Interestingly enough, there were a few songs that had a change of pace in the set list. Baron-Gracie declared that they were “going to sing a sad song” before easing into an endearing and moving performance of ‘The Tide’. It was an effective paradox to the rest of the set and showcased the band’s ability to write an eclectic mix of music. Later songs like ‘My Obsession’ and ‘You don’t love us anymore’ broke down with abstract beat brakes that completely challenged anyone’s idea of what dark music should sound like in 2017.

“Pale Waves proved that they are ones to watch in 2018”

As Pale Waves closed with crowd favourite ‘There’s a Honey’ there was a slight disappointment that the set was only 8 songs long. The band are still working on their debut album which is being produced by The 1975’s Matty Healy and George Daniel so they could only grace the crowd with a small amount of material. As their first headline show in Nottingham came to a close, Pale Waves proved that they are ones to watch in 2018 and it would not be surprising at all if we see this band at the top of the charts by the end of next year.


Lewis Goodger

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Featured Image courtesy of The Line of Best Fit Webpage

Live Images courtesy of Lewis Goodger

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