PALE WAVES - O2 Institute, Birmingham 25.09.2018

PALE WAVES slipped under my radar this year, which is surprising considering my obsession with The 1975. I first listened to them when my friend confessed to listening to their latest album on repeat in their car for 4 days straight, and subsequently fell in love with their music and aesthetic soon after. When I heard they would be headlining O2 Institute, I headed down with my best friend Rhyanna in tow, a self-confessed superfan who I was sure could give me some interesting insights into the band and their beginnings.

Due to a grumpy security guard who doesn’t believe I could be picking up a press pass, we’re late getting in and I miss my chance to shoot King Nun. I’m gutted – the singer is climbing anything of any height (including the drum kit while the drummer still tries in vain to play) before flinging himself off. If you enjoy bands like The Raconteurs and material from performers like Jack White, then I urge you to give 'Hung Around' a quick spin. You won’t be disappointed.

Next was the dreamy tracks from Swimming Girls, a band who formed in Bath after being flung together while studying and being told to just write a song. Their music screams 80s nostalgia, with their latest track 'Beneath You' contains more synth than you could shake a stick at. Although they’re fairly static, they more than make up for it with their music. The room sways in unison to 'Asking For It', and I make a mental note to add it to my Spotify playlist.

The stage descends into fog, highlighted by red lights, and PALE WAVES wander onstage to the cacophony of applause from fans. I’ve heard from friends that they’re lacking in stage presence, however I felt this couldn’t be further from the truth. Singer Heather debuts her signature dancing as she wanders around stage in a pair of scarily high platform sneakers, singing along to their opening track 'Television Romance'. A fan, who has been clutching a package to her chest since the beginning of the show, gently flings a bunch of roses at Heather’s feet, which she acknowledges with a whoop and a grin.

Their set is mostly tracks from their latest album 'My Mind Makes Noise', showing the band’s progression as they carve out their own unique niche in the now saturated Dreampop genre. Their aesthetic is showing throughout their show – from the band’s hair, makeup and clothes to the red spotlights that meander across the stage. Tracks like 'She' leave crowd members snivelling like heartbroken teenage girls (I’m looking at you Rhyanna) while 'Came In Close' and 'The Tide' have the whole room bouncing. The Institute is no easy room to play, but the band smash it.

PALE WAVES - https://www.facebook.com/palewaves/

Swimming Girls - https://www.facebook.com/SwimmingGirls/

Photos & Review - Sutcliffe Photography

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