GAYLE live in London: TikTok’s pop-punk sensation flexes her musical muscle

Omeara, May 30: at her debut UK headline gig, the viral star skilfully juggles a wide range of emotion, from tenderness to rock thrills

If not a full-blown storm, then GAYLE can conjure some seriously heavy weather. The Nashville-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist appears though out of nowhere, stepping out of a scarlet-lit fog to the mic – a flash of electric guitar, choker necklaces, and red and brown split-dyed hair. She immediately breaks into charging opener ‘Luv Starved’, and an emotional release rains down: her vocals are deep and bruised, while drums tumble in behind her like currents of heavy wind. It’s breathtaking.

The 17-year-old is kicking off her debut UK headline show, and the stage in this sold-out south London venue feels far too snug for her, both physically and figuratively. When she tosses her guitar into the air after ripping through the stop-start riffs of ‘Ur Just Horny’, GAYLE’s jaw drops in a mixture of shock and mischievous glee: to the tune of a sold-out crowd singing along to every word, she narrowly misses knocking her bassist with her instrument.

But GAYLE relishes the challenge. ‘abcdefu’ is remixed into an “angrier version” with faster pacing, proving powerfully unequal to the small size of this room, which vibrates with quiet disbelief from those lucky enough to snag tickets. After the pop-punk anthem blew up on TikTok late last year, she became something of a bonafide breakout star, topping the UK charts and following up with her debut EP, March’s ‘A Study Of The Human Experience, Volume One’, played tonight in full.


Her voice, which dances between a conversational lower register and animated vocal runs, is one of true potential. It remains powerful throughout, offering a swooping giddiness on ‘Orange Peel’ and the unreleased ‘Snow Angels’, or a growl on a cover of Joan Jett’s ‘Bad Reputation’; the latter demonstrates GAYLE’s reckless commitment to both fun and catharsis, near-yelling the lyrics of her “forever hero”, grinning all the while.

There are certainly bigger venues in GAYLE’s future, but there’s something almost magical about the intimacy of this show. An attentive hush greets the handful of piano ballads, especially as she sings about the tragic passing of a teenage friend on ‘God Has A Sense Of Humour’. As it winds up into a thundering crescendo, its suddenness proves how GAYLE’s ability to jump between the earnest, eyes-closed commitment of some songs and youthful chaos of others is irresistible.

GAYLE played:

‘Luv Starved’
‘Ur Just Horny’
‘Orange Peel’
‘That Much’
‘Kiddie Pool’
‘God Has A Sense Of Humour’
‘Sleeping With My Friends’
‘Snow Angels’
‘Bad Reputation’
‘To My Face’