After meeting with GAYLE backstage at Bar Le Ritz before her show this Sunday (check out the interview on our Youtube channel!), I left with the impression of a self-effacing teenager in disbelief of everything she’s accomplished this year, including her hit song “abcdefu” hitting a billion streams on Spotify, a musical feature in the 2023 blockbuster “Barbie” movie, opening for pop titans Taylor Swift and P!nk, as well as drawing out her own crowd for her headlining “Scared But Trying” tour. Returning to the venue for her performance hours later, I witnessed in contrast a proficient performer – featuring hair flips and high kicks with the confidence of an established rockstar, while preserving an emotionally accessible persona for her intimate show.
English pop-rocker Dylan opened the night, performing a bar show with equal energy and charisma as if she were headlining a stadium. A whirl of blonde hair flips and impressive shreds on her copper-bedazzled axe – she is a delightfully fiery act; and to my excitement is headlining her own “The Rebel Child Tour” in 2024. Dylan blends classic rock and contemporary pop in a timeless persona – my favourites of her set included “Girl Of Your Dreams”, “Rebel Child,” “Treat Me Bad,” “Nothing Lasts Forever,” and a cover of Harry Styles’ “Kiwi.” After the show she graciously stuck around in the venue to greet a long line of fans, who will surely become familiar faces at her future shows.
GAYLE kick-started her set with “indieedgycool,” a satirical pop-punk track making fun of herself and those who care too hard about being cool. Continuing this lighthearted teasing of her generation, she explores Gen Z’s contradicting relationship dynamics in “z.” “I like our generation…but we can be little shits,” she explains. GAYLE switched between her electric guitar and bass as she took the crowd through her recent works: the coming-of-age anthem “snow angels,” the wistful lyricism of “kiddie pool,” and a grunge-pop cover of The Arrows’ “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Noticing her crowd passionately singing along, she handed out guitar picks, took videos on their phones, and even picked out a fan to sign her jacket.
Introducing the piano ballad “god has a sense of humour”, GAYLE reflected on the absurdity and lack of reason as to why bad things happen to innocent people; the title of this song inspired by someone who had insensitively said that phrase to her during a difficult time. “Religion and faith can be a beautiful thing for people because they have a sense of understanding of the world and a very beautiful sense of hope. None of that shit makes sense in my brain, there’s no reason why bad things happen to people… so this song is a positive perspective on the negative things that happen to me.” She further develops this thesis of optimistic nihilism in “everybody hates me,” a response to the widespread hate towards her 2021 hit “abcdefu.” GAYLE has never claimed “abcdefu,” which she closed her set with, to be the lyrical magnum opus of which her critics scrutinize her for lacking; she was 16 at the time of writing with no expectation of how far it would take off. “I’m a teenager, I make something one day and I hate it the next week.” Explaining how she coped with the negativity, she advised her audience: “When everybody hates you, nothing else matters – you have to like yourself.”
GAYLE’s music is a celebration of Gen Z, where she accepts the good and the bad, the cool and the cringe, the whimsy and the angst of her generation. Her live performance is a juxtaposition of this teenage lyrical perspective delivered in a matured and powerful voice. Though her songs dominate the digital sphere, she is an artist to see live to witness both her grit and her tenderness.
- sleeping with my friends
- leave me for dead
- snow angels
- kiddie pool
- London Bridge (Fergie cover)
- i don’t sleep as good as i used to
- I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll (The Arrows cover)
- don’t call me pretty
- god has a sense of humor
- Wiggle (Jason Derulo cover)
- Get The Party Started (P!nk cover)
- luv starved (love sick)
- orange peel
- everybody hates me
- ur just horny
Review & photos – Serena YangShare this :