Music Reviews

“A Celebration Of Women Within The Rock Genre” – Live Review: Pale Waves, Hot Milk & BITTERS @ Rock City

Gemma Cockrell

On a Sunday night in February, three female-fronted rock bands teamed up at Nottingham’s Rock City to provide an evening of live music and entertainment that was truly a celebration of women within the rock genre. Gemma Cockrell reviews.

Arriving just in the nick of time to catch BITTERS, a band I was entirely unfamiliar with prior to the show, I was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a female-fronted rock band. With them being relatively new to the scene (they only have two songs on Spotify), they clearly have a lot of potential that is ready to be unleashed. With a similar energy to Pale Waves, they were definitely a good choice to open the show.

one of the most exciting up-and-coming rock bands of 2022

However, the support act that really stole the show was Hot Milk. I have never seen a crowd react so strongly and positively to a supporting act, showing them levels of enthusiasm and energy that are usually reserved for the headliners. Hot Milk proved themselves to be one of the most exciting up-and-coming rock bands of 2022, the highlight being the dynamic back and forth between the two vocalists. I doubt it’ll be long before we see them headlining Rock City in their own right.

Hot Milk used their set to represent a shift that has been seen recently in the rock industry – a message of welcoming and acceptance, within a genre that has not always been known to champion diversity. However, we are witnessing a time period where rock is more diverse than ever, with the band promoting a message of acceptance regardless of gender or sexuality. It is truly touching to see rock gigs become a safe space for people who are struggling with their personal identities, and it felt in that moment that everyone was welcome, regardless of who they are.

Again, Pale Waves did a great job picking Hot Milk as a support act, because they themselves also echoed this message, with lead vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran both being members of the LGBT+ community. This was particularly captured through their performances of their newer material, songs from their sophomore record ‘Who Am I?’, such as Tomorrow, Odd Ones Out and the encore track She’s My Religion, during which someone from the crowd passed Baron-Gracie a rainbow flag that she proudly wore as a cape until she left the stage.

every song they played was met with high energy

Going into the gig, I was unsure whether Pale Waves would be able to successfully merge tracks from their debut album ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ with those from their sophomore record, since they differ so broadly in terms of genre, themes and sound. However, it immediately became apparent that the crowd were equally fond of both of these different sides of the band, and every song they played was met with high energy – so much energy that Baron-Gracie even admitted her necklace fell off at one point.

Tracks such as There’s A Honey, Red, and Kiss from their debut were highlights of the set, and despite the drums being slightly too overpowering for their former indie-pop style on Television Romance, overall it was nice to hear the band still showing appreciation for their older tunes despite having moved away from this sound over the years. They even managed to connect the outro of newer track Wish You Were Here with the intro to Kiss, bridging between their two albums effortlessly and establishing a sense of connectivity between the new and the old.

They delved even further into their discography at one point, travelling back to their 2018 EP ‘ALL THE THINGS I NEVER SAID’ to perform My Obsession, perhaps the moment where Baron Gracie’s vocals shone the most throughout the set. However, they didn’t remain in the past for too long, going on to debut a new song titled Jealousy, and even though fans were unfamiliar with it and didn’t know the lyrics, they became ecstatic when they heard the heavy guitar riff introduction, and received the track so well it was difficult to believe that it wasn’t a Pale Waves classic. 

The evening as a whole proved that the rock genre has come a long way in the past few years. To have three female-fronted rock bands perform one after another on the same stage, on the same night, was refreshing. In my teenage years I remember bands like these being rare to find, in a genre that has often been dominated by men. Since then, it appears that rock has become an accepting and welcoming safe space for everyone, regardless of their gender or sexual identity, and I am proud to see it evolve with the times in this way.

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @palewaves via No changes were made to this image.

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