by Cameron Cairns
Mancunian Indie-Rock sensations Pale Waves descended upon Glasgow’s 02 Academy on a frosty winters evening like thieves in the night with some interesting friends in tow. Waiting shivering in the frost you had to perform a double take every few seconds, the swathes of youth swarming the building resembling the band to such a degree you would have sworn that frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie had passed you several times.
A huge monochrome butterfly hung over the stage like a cult symbol and was bathed in purple and red lights as the first act of the night BITTERS took to the stage. Centered, commanding and dressed head to toe in black, her beret and leather trousers provided a passing resemblance to a 70’s Stevie Nicks yet the resemblance did not end there. Her floaty, beautiful vocals were impressive in the extreme and was reciprocated by the audience from the jump, eliciting early roars from the crowd and even getting an audience clap along before the first song had even concluded (assisted by her excitable bass player, who resembled every member of Metallica past and present simultaneously). Her quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic went over well with the audience, her indie lo-fi sound serving as a great foundation for her soaring melodies of frustration and discontent. The songs on display showed great promise, and an unexpected Stacey’s Mom cover warmed the crowd up excellently.
Next up were the unpredictable and excitable Hot Milk, who were every bit as strange as their name implied. The dual- fronted troupe provided heaps of energy, with their distinct brand of pop-punk occasionally verging on straight up thrash and occasionally downing guitars for mic-in-hand quasi-rap sections with trap drums aplenty. Mosh pits were the order of the night, with the vocalists egging the crowd into a frenzy on multiple occasions, only bolstered by Han’s frantic energy, resembling a cartoon Joan Jett in red leather trousers with a low-slung guitar one minute or a young Karen O on speed the next. Even a minor hiccup which saw the bass player walk offstage, only to return and stand in the corner by his amp like a potted house plant could do little to calm the storm.
Finally, it was time for the main event. Pale Waves strode across the boards like they meant business, professional and straight to the point, launching into their recent single “Change” right off the bat to huge aplomb. In a tartan skirt (an ode to her Scottish roots), dyed curls and a leather ensemble frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie resembled Batman villainess Harley Quinn, flanked on either side by sleeveless guitarists Hugo and Charlie standing tall and imposing as though her henchmen. If it weren’t for their rigid tightness and musical ability, you would have sworn they had smashed a pawn shop window en-route and ransacked the instrument department for a completely impromptu performance.
“How are you feeling Glasgow?” quizzed Heather following their performance second track Television Romance. “Let’s have a fuckin’ good night, yeah?”. The night as a whole served as a well needed shot to the arm following months of winter frost, with Pale Waves brand of power pop ballads heating the building up in record time, with recent album highlight Wish U Were Here prompting massive singalongs (“Lying on the floor wishing that you were here…”). Before a gentle acoustic rendition of Odd Ones Out, Heather revealed “I’m expecting big things from you tonight Glasgow, my dad’s Scottish!” to huge cheers from the crowd. “I just fuckin’ love the Scottish… I text my mum and let her know that I’m pissed off I don’t have the accent. We should have stayed here!”Already lapping the performance up like starved dogs, those in attendance were thrown into rapture as a young female counter-goer was invited onstage to play drums for Jealousy, laying a solid beat with fills aplenty before restarting the track again with the full band, the young lady sheepishly waving as she strode offstage. After a brief two song encore of debut album tracks She’s My Religion and There’s a Honey the crowd was dispensed once more into the winter cold with warm in their hearts, having lapped up every second of a fantastic and fault-free performance