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Bursting through the doors at the recordBar in Kansas City, MO on Monday, November 20th, you would have thought a giant party was in full swing. Music flooded the speakers, the room packed tighter than your average weeknight – almost as full as we have seen on Saturdays with more established acts – excited chatter filling the air. Manchester’s latest thrilling up-and-comers Pale Waves – who have really earned more than just the “up-and-coming” status at this point – were making their first official appearance in Kansas City, and their dedicated fanbase showed up in full force.
That being said, scraping your way to the front was almost impossible. We enjoyed the show from a side pillar – an obstructed view, but we were able to see all four band members – where we were able to see the first few rows of bright, exuberant fan faces while they rocked out and belted the lyrics to every single song like their lives depended on it. It was certainly a sight to see and, coupled with the band’s energetic-yet-laid-back performance style, it definitely left an impression.
Lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie has eyes that would lead anyone to believe she could have Cobain blood running through her veins, while her goth-punk appearance is probably what induces that laid-back feel, as everything comes so naturally to her onstage that she almost seems unamused. It’s alluring at worst, all-encompassing at best, so there is no downside. And while no one member of the band has the same aesthetic, they all seem to rock a similarly unamused yet fierce attitude on stage.
This isn’t something that has changed in the days since they started making music, as early articles from 2015 and beyond depict Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran – who spend time bonding over music as roommates – with the same intense stares and seemingly punk attitudes. What has changed is the lineup around them but the quartet that made such an impressionable appearance at recordBar seemed to be a well-oiled machine. With just a glance, they had their stage presence down, entering quietly and exiting as they came, choosing not to fill their set with banter. Instead, it was solely about the music, a beautiful and unexpected evening of pure sound.
When the band’s debut Dirty Hit single “There’s A Honey” was released in early 2017, out of the loop consumers may have linked their sound to another UK favorite, The 1975. That thought would be the correct one, as their sound is a familiar – yet fresh – one due to the fact that they signed to the same label as the popular band and that coveted first single was produced by The 1975 band members Matt Healy and George Daniel. The rest of the music released this year has had the same feel, making their sound like an infectious siren call for the teens and young adults.
But it wasn’t just the tots out for this show, to be sure. In fact, that might be what was the most confusing aspect of it all. If you had no knowledge of the band itself, it almost seemed like a family reunion. People of all demographics – all ages, races, sexual orientations, styles, etc. – roamed the floor at the venue. Which made us remember one very important thing: an enigmatic act can move the entire world.