Pale Waves open for The 1975 at Bill Graham, leave stage all too soon

Pale Waves
Skylar De Paul/Staff

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English pop band Pale Waves, currently on tour with The 1975, has been hitting cities all over the United States with its synth-goth aesthetics and sparkly sound. Whether purposeful or not, the band seems to have cultivated inspiration from the Siouxsie Siouxs of the world, emulating the classic British new wave genre from the 1980s.  

However, it seemed as if the synthy quartet received only a split second of stage time at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on April 23. As the band members moved quickly through hits such as “Eighteen” and “Television Romance,” there was little time to get a feel for Pale Waves’ personality and musical style beyond the flashing red lights and dark makeup that was presented onstage.    

The performance as a whole was rather passive — lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie held the same uninterested look on her face for the entire duration of the show, only moving away from her mic stand to bend into some more intense chords as she played her guitar. This aloof performance style may have fit the band’s too-cool-for-school vibe, but a little more theatricality and enthusiasm could have gone a long way for a live performance.

Despite the ho-hum nature of Pale Waves’ performance style, the group was still able to have a few highlight moments. One such moment was the performance of the song “Heavenly,” which allowed the band to display the most charisma of all the songs it played during its set. A new-era upbeat tune, “Heavenly” plays into the more alternative vein of the band as opposed to its typical glittery pop draw.    

While Baron-Gracie consistently held center stage for the majority of Pale Waves’ set list, guitarist Hugo Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood served as pillars on each side of the stage, framing the sound and directing the drive of each note. The staging of the show may have had plenty of visual appeal, but it would have benefited the band to use as much of the space provided as possible.    

While Pale Waves only played a few songs, the band has a much greater repertoire than it was able to display during the concert. Many fans of The 1975 also follow Pale Waves, as both groups are signed to the same record company; both groups also work closely to produce music. This is why it seemed that if given more time to perform, Pale Waves could have done much more to demonstrate the best of the band’s discography and get the audience excited for the central act.

It should be noted, however, that there wasn’t anything inherently bad about Pale Waves’ performance at all. The members’ charming British accents and unique aesthetics — goth hasn’t looked this effortless in a while — were more than welcomed by the crowd, which was having a great time dancing to each song in the set list.

In the end, every song that Pale Waves played sounded almost exactly like the recorded version, and the staging of the band was still visually enticing. Considering Pale Waves only recently garnered popularity in the past year, audiences can expect that the group can continue to learn during future tours to build to more impactful performances.   

Contact Skylar De Paul at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.