Less than a month ago, Pale Waves were picking up NME’s Under the Radar award. This week (1 March 2018), they returned to Stoke-on-Trent to play their sold-out show at The Sugarmill. Despite the weather, gig-goers made the journey and stood queuing in the stormy weather to see the show.
First on the bill was Uxbridge band, Bloxx. The female fronted four-piece boasted a beautiful blend of grunge and indie. Their upbeat, catchy hooks paired with Jaws-esque guitar tones made you forget about Storm Emma and dream of summer festivals and ciders in the sun. Their latest single, released 15 February, Novocain, became a firm favourite with the crowd for its addictive riffs and pulsating drums. The band have some exciting opportunities coming up, including a tour with The Wombats and Liverpool’s Sound City Festival. Keep your eyes peeled for them.
Main support came from Our Girl, a trio from Brighton. It then dawned on me that all of the bands on the bill included females, which was empowering to see. Our Girl consists of vocalist Soph Nathan, a young lass who looks innocent enough until you see her shred on a guitar with a growl in her voice; drummer Lauren Wilson who knows her way around a killer drum fill; and bassist Josh Tyler, quietly hiding in the shadows of stage left ready to attack with the rumbling bass lines. Together, they created gorgeously ghostly harmonies with their vocals. They bought a darker, moodier air to the night, with a style that screamed Yeah Yeah Yeahs meets The Cranberries.
Pale Waves are on a wave of success (pardon the pun) and don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Since being signed to Dirty Hit, the band have befriended labelmates, The 1975, supporting them at a sold-out gig at Madison Square Garden, NYC. The 1975 frontman, Matty Heely went on to direct Pale Waves music video for their second single, Television Romance, with which they opened their Sugarmill set.
The band have well established their iconic look, with front-woman, Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer, Ciara Doran sporting heavy eye makeup, dark lipstick and fishnet attires. They are as comfortable in their sound as they are their appearance, deep-rooted in funky, indie-pop melodies with influences streaming from the 80’s, namely, The Cure and later, The 1975. The influences may seem worlds apart aesthetically, but come together to make the love child that is Pale Waves.
Heather makes a brilliant front-woman, her stage presence is mysterious yet confident, twirling her hair as she sings. It reminds me somewhat of David Bowie.
The 45 minute set included all six of the bands singles, as well as a few extras. My Obsession from their All The Things I Never Said EP is a stripped back, heart wrenching rock ballad that may jerk a tear or two if you’ve had an emotional day.
New Years’ Eve brightened up the night with its dance-y riffs and catchy chorus, “I don’t wanna be alone on New Years’ Eve / Do you even wanna be with me?” It brings with it the image of a drunken New Year house party with a few too many drinks where the night could go incredibly or terribly. It makes you ponder the notion of the New Year New Me mantra and whether it’s all worth it, or if it’s just a night full of far too much pressure to have a good time. The set was concluded with everyone’s favourite bop, Pale Waves debut single, There’s A Honey which you can listen to here: