Live Review: Pale Waves at Boot & Saddle

Pale Waves have created quite a buzz since their debut single “There’s a Honey” was released in February. Signed to Dirty Hit Records, the Manchester band has since released two other singles – “Television Romance” and “New Year’s Eve” – supported labelmates The 1975 on a huge North American tour in the spring (which included a date at Madison Square Garden, Pale Waves’ first New York show), and after headline dates in the UK and Europe, are headlining their first North American tour.


Formed by Heather Baron-Gracie (singer and guitarist), Ciara Doran (drummer), Hugo Silvani (guitarist), and Charles Wood (bassist), Pale Waves creates a new wave of alternative pop in their music. Synths and catchy guitar hooks are staples in their songs, accompanied by emotional lyrics which tend to tell a detailed story. “There’s a Honey” talks about a troubled romance, “Television Romance” deals with a love that is not meant to be, and “New Year’s Eve” narrates an eventful night in Gracie’s life.

The band’s bright music comes in stark contrast to their look – Gracie fully embraces the goth aesthetic, constantly donning black lipstick,  heavy eyeshadow, velvet creepers, and fishnet stockings.

Pale Waves’ debut headline North American show was at Philadelphia’s Boot and Saddle. Support act The Candescents from Columbus, Ohio, were confident and strong onstage, despite saying this was their first show outside of a house in about a year. They brought less polished, grittier music to the show, playing the rock and roll we all know and love.

Pale Waves announced their entrance with a drone-like, high-pitched sound which got the crowd ready and built up everyone’s anticipation. They kicked things off with “Television Romance”, the band’s second single, getting the crowd warmed up to their show with a taste of what’s familiar. Gracie commanded everyone’s attention with her melodic singing, eye rolls, and hand gestures. By the time the chorus came everyone was singing along.

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The band seemed in perfect sync. And even on a tight stage, each of the members managed to fully embrace their parts in the songs and have their moments while never losing the connection between one another. Silvani maintained poise and grace while playing his guitar, never losing focus, while Wood moved along to the beat while delivering pulsating bass lines, especially on “New Year’s Eve”. Doran kept the rhythm going smoothly, alternating between electronic triggers and the acoustic drum set. Gracie is a shy but undeniably captivating frontwoman – while she barely addressed the crowd throughout the set, her personality came through during every song, and she challenges you to not watch her.


Pale Waves set was short, only 40 minutes long, and composed of mainly unreleased songs. Yet they managed to seduce the 21+ crowd – an unusual one for them since their most dedicated fans, who certainly know all the words to every song the band has ever played, are typically younger than that – and by the time they left the stage, everyone was hoping for an encore.

Pale Waves have only just started making their mark on North American soil, but if their first show of the tour was any indication of what’s to come, fans of the band across the country will not be disappointed, and we will definitely be hearing a lot more from the Manchester group in the future.


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All images by Nicole Almeida


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