By Kristen Hawley | 17 November, 2023
On October 25th, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favorite rising artists, GAYLE, perform at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. I’m sure every reader knows GAYLE from her scream-at- the-top-of-your-lungs, smash-hit, “ABCDEFU”. But that song is just a taste of the rock and roll edge GAYLE has in store for fans. It’s a well-known fact that music is always better live and rock and roll is destined, almost required, to be heard live to feel the full impact.
If anyone is debating whether they would enjoy GAYLE’s discography, I can without a doubt confirm that seeing her live will make you an avid fan.
As a 19 year-old artist, GAYLE is representative of Gen Z and that’s not a derogatory statement the way generational labeling is thrown around as a condemnation to negative stereotypes. It’s a compliment to her carefree attitude that shows her authentic self. There was not one moment once she took the stage that you didn’t see GAYLE being GAYLE. With her tour titled the “scared, but trying tour,” I mean, is there a more perfect sentence to sum up what it's like to be young in 2023?
To perform songs with such lyrical bite, a musician needs to have a certain attitude to pull it off. GAYLE has that fierce, fire-y energy to her stage presence and it was infectious. In true musician style, GAYLE was constantly bouncing between playing guitar, bass, and piano. Throughout the setlist, the energy was high and the music was loud. It was as if every song she played, alongside her band consisting of Andrew (drummer) and Max (bass), was their last song of the night.
One of the highlights of the show was watching these three interact with one another. Similar to GAYLE’s free-spirit, this band riffed and roasted each other as if they were just hanging out at home during band practice. The best aspect of a group or a band is when their connection and friendship feels authentic –not a music industry plant that aesthetically or sonically makes sense together. When the relationship is reminiscent of you with your own best friend, it elevates a live performance.
Also, I must note that GAYLE’s drummer, Andrew, was an absolute standout. The drums are the core part of a song; they’re the heartbeat and the guide to the rhythm. A drummer not only is constantly working during every song, but there’s no option to fake the passion or intensity needed. Andrew immediately drew attention because there was fire and excitement when he played that you could visually see. GAYLE’s music deserves a drummer that will play it all out every time, someone who understands how to deliver rock and roll, and Andrew’s that drummer.
GAYLE’s setlist included songs like “orange peel”, “god has a sense of humor”, “sleeping with my friends”, and “butterflies” off the Barbie: The Album. Of course, she sprinkled in some covers like Fergie’s “London Bridge,” P!nk’s “Get the Party Started,” Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle,” and the very much in-theme, “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” by The Arrows. Her crowd work, stories, and genuine connection with the audience created a special night for fans to remember.
As a girl who really enjoys edgy rock music, my interest is always peaked when any woman enters that space. It’s a shame that rock and alternative isn’t always welcoming to women, both as listeners or performers, because I believe we have a lot to say. Girls essentially are the genre’s target audience. I mean, rage is such an universal feeling, especially when you are navigating growing up. Hayley Williams blazed the trail for those to follow, but still alternative and rock music struggles to put women in the forefront. I commend GAYLE, who at just 19 years-old is not only writing chart-topping hits, but is carving a place for herself in the rock space. Even with the anxiety or doubt that plagues anyone in their teenage years or early-twenties, GAYLE channels confidence. Whether that changes with the next musical era or song release, no one knows, but she embodies what it means to be a rockstar - someone is always evolving and pushing boundaries without ever giving up their autonomy.