Many a man has put Manchester, England, on the musical map — but women have been largely left out of the picture. Pale Waves is changing that. Fronted by the singer/guitarist/lyricist Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer/songwriter Ciara Doran, they’re pushing the scene forward in bold, exciting ways. They open for fellow Manchester music-makers The 1975 at the Santa Barbara Bowl, April 21, at 6 p.m., along with No Rome, from Manila.
Pale Waves makes music for the now while still building on and furthering the legacy of their predecessors. A four-piece rounded out by Hugo Silvani (guitar, keyboard) and Charlie Wood (bass, keyboard), singer Baron-Gracie said the band is “doing something different. We’re a mixed-gender band that plays pop music and is somewhat dressed up like vampires — but we’re making room for that. We inspire people to just be themselves.”
For Baron-Gracie, it’s especially important to be a visibly empowered woman in the man’s world of the music industry. “We’re all about seeing our power, and doing it for the girls, and we do sort of try and preach about that as much as we can,” she said. “We just want to inspire young female artists to pick up an instrument, to show you can do it. So many come up to us and said they were intimidated to pick up an instrument. Music is very dominated by the male gender, and it sometimes is intimidating; I’ve been talked down to because I’m a girl. A lot of men talk to Hugo a lot more about guitar stuff — I’m just as interested in guitars.”
Pale Waves’ synth-heavy pop sound shares some similarities with labelmates The 1975. “We have a lot of the same influences; we love pop music and ’80s music,” Baron-Gracie said. They’ve enjoyed a quick explosion of attention as an indie band thrust onto the world stage. Last year, they won an NME Under the Radar Award and ranked fifth in the BBC Sound of 2018 poll. Throughout, Pale Waves showcase an independently spirited identity all their own.
“I feel like people are so shocked by how we dress these days and the music we write; they think we do it for the contradiction or gaining more popularity, but we actually dress like this day to day. That’s how I feel comfortable,” she said. “So many people are scared of truly being themselves these days. Even though we get a lot of backlash for how we dress and the music we do, it’s all about making space for people to be themselves.”
PET MEDZ PUNK PRESCRIPTION: In other news of all things rocking, head to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Friday, April 19, to catch area punk greats Pet Medz, starting at 9 p.m. The band headlines in this punked-out evening, along with the punkabilly of The Grownups, ’90s-style punk rockers Last Point, and fellow punks The Chores. With the Central Coast and northern SoCal being famed for growing a few of our recent decades’ bigger punk-rock and ska bands, acts like these continue on the 805’s rule-breaking rock ways, with good melodies to boot.
QUIK IS THE NAME: Alternatively, if hip-hop’s more your groove, legendary producer, turntableist, and emcee DJ Quik comes to Velvet Jones (423 State St.) on Thursday, April 18, at 9 p.m. A fundamental force of ’90s rap and co-sculptor of Compton’s musical world, DJ Quik is one of those rare producers whose beats continue to make you bounce decades after their making, one whose influence is felt far and wide. Thankfully, he’s still going strong.