A Review of Pillow Queens' Gig in York

One of our writers reviews a gig they saw in York...

Sarah Tunstall
9th December 2023
ImageCredit: Instagram@pillowqueensband
Pillow Queens did the unlikely for their small 2023 tour - they came to York - and delivered an amazing performance to the small fan collective of Yorkshire.

Formed in 2016, Pillow Queens are an Irish indie rock band from Dublin. Their lyrical content is heavy with stories of growing up as members of the LGBTQ+ community with Irish-Catholic upbringing. The members: Pamela, Sarah (co-lead vocalists), Cathy (lead guitarist), and Rachel (drummer) are those types of performers who actually engage with the audience. They're always thankful for the support they recieve and share stories of their tour in between songs as they set up their instruments. They also often sell their own merch after the gig, spending time to talk to everyone who came to see the show.

I became a fan of Pillow Queens not long after their first album In Waiting (2020) was released during the 2021 lockdown from January to March and it became one of those staple albums in my record collection. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, they're one of those bands where when I truly listened to the lyrics I felt a connection with their stories. With songs of sapphic love, first relationships, parental relationships, and growing up in Dublin their music is one of those personal things I struggle to find with some current artists.

ImageCredit: Instagram@pillowqueensband

This was my second time seeing Pillow Queens, my first show was at The Cluny in Newcastle in May 2022, and they did not fail to disappoint. I was beyond excited to see them beforehand, anticipating some new unreleased music, and excited to see them in person again. Their opening band, Adawaith came onto the small stage in The Crescent hesitantly but excited to see our little community. With singing all their songs in Welsh it was very sweet that they gave us translations of the titles. But even then, as an English listener, they are so similar to Cocteau Twins in the likes of when you hear a song it feels as if even though you don't know what they're saying, everything connects. They were truly mesmerising as a band, and I was in awe at the sound this small trio made.

They were truly mesmerising as a band, and I was in awe at the sound this small trio made

For Pillow Queens, the setlist was, admittedly, pretty much the same as the one in Newcastle so as a fan I would have liked to see some more variation after releasing two albums. But the new unreleased music brought something extra to their set that I didn't quite expect. At times their albums feel slightly over-produced and heavy but when you hear the dynamics of the guitar, Irish folk singing, and the drums in person it all seems to blend seemingly. I will admit if you're not into artists whose songs sound the same, you might struggle not hearing many variations in a small gig set, but their engagement and the audiences' singing make it all so much stronger. I spent the whole time smiling and dancing, screaming all the lyrics.

Although I love their small gigs, I hope one day they fill stadiums. They deserve it as music artists in the industry but also as LGBTQ+ voices for many listeners.

Check out their newly released single, Suffer, on all streaming platforms.

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