On the day of the season's first snow storm, Pale Waves with the support of The Candescents made their way to Toronto's Opera House as a part of their late 2018 North American tour. This was their second time in Toronto this year, as they had their first headlining show in April at The Velvet Underground. In the past year they have gotten a lot of attention due to the fact that they had toured with The 1975 in 2017 and will tour again with them in 2019.
The club sized venue was about half full when The Candescents came on. Among the patrons were clear fans of Pale Waves; decked out in almost cosplays of lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie and other gothic attire. Other than those, there were an even mix of people attending.
The Candescents were not gothic in appearance like their headliner. They were more easy listening indie rock. The songs sounded very similar to one another, maintaining a consistent vibe to loosen the crowd. It was difficult to understand what the lead singer was saying, but I feel as though they don't use vocals as the center of attention, but more so like another instrument to add to the music. Some fans woo'd when the band introduced their song titles, indicating that some attendants are aware of the band's material. Patrons were also clapping along with no instruction to do so, which is good. "This is one of the first song we ever wrote" introduced the bassist. The song began with a much more notable guitar riff than the other songs that have been played. The last song they played is a song about "not wanting to be a boyfriend" It seemed like some people knew this song and were singing along and jumping around. They were an enjoyable light head bobbing band.
It was then time for Pale Waves to arrive on stage. The lights went out and ominous but dreamy synths played in the dark to amp up the audience. The members Ciara (drummer), Hugo (lead guitar), and Charlie (bass, keyboards) took their place and the crowd cheered on for them. Then Heather Baron-Gracie (lead singer) walked on stage with her all black leather jacket, creeper shoes, and curly bob. She had her gothic brand on point with her looks and apathetic demeanor that lots of fans are attracted to. The broke out in red lighting to their biggest hit "Television Romance." The audience members who were clearly fans were as excited as ever, singing every word and jumping about. Heather had a fantastic lead singer persona with her little robotic movements, trashing her hair, and dancing about when she wasn't playing the guitar. Amongst a technical difficulty between two songs, Heather says she's a little bit ill. The fans yell out "we love you Heather", "I love you Heather." throughout the entire set between songs. The songs themselves are very inspired by 80's goth pop rock and their structures are a little repetitive, but their catchiness overthrows that. Heather's voice was perfectly on point with how the record sounds. They played the song "She." It was a quiet, slow build up to a climax song which was a nice break from the repetitiveness of the other songs. It was majority made up of synths with the exception of Heather's guitar solo in the climax. Nearly every song title they introduced was met with huge applause and anticipation. After a short 10 song set, Heather left the stage after she knew her singing was finishing and the band kept the song going until the song was completed. Fans instantly demanded "one more tune" as a build up synth that sounded like a train coming through a tunnel began. Pale Waves returned within a couple minutes to play two songs, the last being another one of their biggest hits "There's a Honey." Surprisingly in a pop rock concert, a mild most pit was created! The concert had ended and dedicated fans were waiting by the barricade to get setlists, guitar picks, and anything else they could get their hands on.
Overall, Pale Waves has the teenage angst we all remember but impressively catchy pop rock songs. Heather's persona is magnetic and the band has a great chemistry, checking on each other throughout the set making sure it's all okay. I see Pale Waves having a strong cult following that will keep them going for a long while. In future albums, I hope to hear more influences incorporated in their future projects. But for a debut album, this is a solid start.