Friday was Black Friday, so who better to bring to The Rave than goth-pop quartet Pale Waves? With makeup (black, of course), sad lyrics, upbeat dance tunes, and Doc Martens sitting on six-inch platforms, Pale Waves commanded a legion of indie-pop-loving fans.
As smoke machines clouded the stage, Pale Waves’ lead singer, Heather Baron-Gracie, emerged dressed like Taylor Swift going as Beetlejuice for Halloween. The rest of the group—Ciara Doran on drums, Charlie Wood on bass, and Hugo Sylvani on guitar—followed suit. As the first synthesized sounds of “Television Romance” blasted forth, teens decked out in The 1975 merch let out screams. The minutes that ensued consisted of fans bopping to the upbeat dance track and never resting until the end of the set.
Pale Waves and The 1975 both draw from the same fan base. Both are also signed to Dirty Hit Records. Matthew Healy and George Daniel of The 1975 both produced Pale Waves newest album, My Mind Makes Noises. The groups sound uncannily similar. Many of the lyrics could also just as easily be sung by Matthew Healy in a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. Maybe the only difference between the groups is Pale Waves’ nod to Robert Smith’s smeared black makeup.
Heather Baron-Gracie plays guitar, sings, and writes many of Pale Waves’ songs. She is undoubtedly the face of the group. With a slim frame, tattoos, and bad-ass black boots, she has become a style icon to her legion of fans. The juxtaposition between Pale Waves’ pop-friendly sound and Baron-Gracie’s goth image is interesting. The beginning of the set came to a close when a fan yelled “Choke me, queen!” Baron-Gracie grabbed her guitar and smiled, clearly comfortable with the crowd interaction.
“This is a song about the color red” Baron-Gracie said as the smoke changed to a constant stream of reddish hues. Baron-Gracie seemed at ease as she crooned “Oh, and I know red’s your favorite color,” and the crowd crooned with her. In fact, they sang and danced right alongside the English indie-pop group through every single song. As Pale Waves played their last song, “There’s A Honey,” they showed why they’ve been gaining so much mainstream success in the indie-pop world. Baron-Gracie electrified the crowd with the hit song. “I would give you my body but I’m not sure that you want me” she sang as the crowd danced along with the chorus and instrumental stops of the song.
Following in the footsteps of their teen friendly predecessors, The 1975, Pale Waves prove that there is a place for modern goth-pop. With commanding stage presence, sad but relatable lyrics, but overall groovy songs, the group seems to have found its niche. Pale Waves played their entire album to an eager crowd that bounced and sang to the entire set. The indie-pop community wants more songs to dance to, and Pale Waves will surely deliver.