Home News Gayle review – Texan TikTok teen with pop-punk attitude | Music

Gayle review – Texan TikTok teen with pop-punk attitude | Music

24
0


“Someone called me the emo alphabet girl, so I guess I go by that – but I also go by Gayle,” the 17-year-old Texan gabbles breathlessly, darkly lined eyes peering through a vision-obscuring fringe.

Her inescapable 2021 single, abcdefu, charted at No 1 and made pinging Adele off the top spot look easy. It turned the anthemic power of nursery-rhyme repetition into a sharp-tongued, if ultimately quite safe flip-off: an illicit thrill for fans of an age who can’t yet swear perhaps as freely as they might like. Her sharp-tongued teen angst captured the TikTok zeitgeist, where, like Olivia Rodrigo a year earlier, her bitterness over a shattered relationship resonated with millions.

This kind of safe rebellion characterises Gayle’s first headline show at Omeara. In fact, it’s all quite a polite affair. She makes knock-knock jokes and sings Happy Birthday, and the crowd meekly chuckles after every punchline. As Gayle rattles through a setlist of high-octane pop-punk drawn from her debut EP, A Study of the Human Experience Volume One, and a smattering of unreleased material, her audience only sways absentmindedly.

As painfully self-scrutinising as any teen … Gayle.
As painfully self-scrutinising as any teen … Gayle. Photograph: Andy Hall/the Observer

If TikTok and gen Z are supposed to be inseparable, then where are her young fans? The crowd is a little thin. Huddled at the front are the men who you might assume to be the dads of the Gayle diehards – but then you realise that the ratio of middle-aged, balding men holding digital cameras to anyone Gayle’s own age is startlingly similar, and that they are, in fact, the fans.

Like any teenager, Gayle is painfully self-scrutinising: on Indieedgycool, she questions: “Am I being ironic? Am I in on the joke? Am I the joke?” She is, at any rate, an almost faultless performer. Every affectation, every feathery hair flip and roundhouse-kick-on-the-chorus drop is carefully studied from a lineage of pop-punk masters such as Avril Lavigne and Hayley Williams. Flexing with the kind of power notes that would make Kelly Clarkson’s eyes water, Gayle’s strength as a vocalist is undeniable. Despite the audience’s tepid, Monday-night energy, she performs with hairbrush-singing passion, as if she had never left her bedroom.

Previous articleWatch: Dan + Shay Share New Song, A Nostalgic Ode to Kenny Chesney
Next articleBTS visit the White House to discuss anti-Asian hate