New wave dream rockers PRETTY BLEAK recently announced their new single like you know better, a sparkling, seething belter of a song, inspired by a conversation with the reflection in the mirror – out NOW! PRETTY BLEAK, consisting of friends Sam Thomas, Sanji Aneja, Cherie Bridgman and Kyle Charleston,have been carefully honing their craft since the release of their 2021 EP BLOOD.


Plan your setlist: Speaking for the band I think one of the most important elements that make our live show interesting is that we put a lot of thought into the order in which we play our songs. The main things we consider is the emotional energy that we’re trying to convey at different parts of the set, as well as what songs thematically fit well together vibe-wise. A perfect example of this took place while we were planning our set for our headline show the other day. We figured out what we thought would be a great set but after playing through it a few times we realised that there were too many down-tempo songs clustered together and it made the entire show feel lethargic and laboured. After switching a couple of things around it changed the entire emotional tone of the setlist and everything felt a lot more impactful and exciting.

Personnel: There is nothing that will buzz-kill your live show more than bad sound and a bad atmosphere. We consider ourselves really lucky that we have found a really good core team of audio and visual pro’s who do such an amazing job at making our live show sound and look great. We use a lot of different equipment and tools to achieve the sound we want live, but we could play the best show ever and it would sound like trash if the mixing wasn’t good. This is why whenever we feel like we had a really good show and that everything was sounding great, we always get the sound engineer’s number and keep in contact. Having a skilled sound-person at the desk makes a huge impact on how your live show will be received by the audience, and it also takes a huge amount of stress off your shoulders as a performer. As a band we also believe that a gig shouldn’t just be an auditory experience, the visual side is just as important when trying to communicate with art. These days whenever we do a headline show we always put the extra money in and get a lighting engineer to make the visual side of our show on par with the sound. Even if it’s a subconscious thing, I think it makes a huge impact on how the audience feels while watching your show when the lighting is beautiful.

Rider: This is a very risky one, and kind of cliche but yeah we all need a little bit of something in our system to get the vibe right. Speaking personally for myself (Sam) now though, I can definitely say I’ve taken this side of the stereotype a little too far on certain occasions and doing that will absolutely RUIN your show. But nowadays I’ve found a satisfying middle ground. Just enough to get a little buzz before I jump on stage is a really valuable thing for my mindset. But please be careful because no one wants to see a mess. 

Set the stage: A lot of the time band rooms can be less than enthralling when it comes to their general aesthetic. If you’ve seen one dive bar stage you’ve basically seen all of them. We always try to bring a few different props that we’ve used in music videos and photoshoots to decorate the stage with in order to elevate the experience of our live show. Black is cool but it gets a bit old just looking at a black floor and black wall and a black fucking ceiling and all the performers wearing black. Breaking that up with some analog TV’s and flowers and anything else we might find while searching for props helps to build an atmosphere that coincides with the music and makes the entire gig a bit more like a spectacle. It also makes photos and videos of the show look more interesting.

Belief: Maybe the most important thing for us is bringing our conviction to the stage. If we come out and play our set with the attitude that we believe wholeheartedly in what we’re doing, then the audience will believe in it too. There’s nothing better than watching a performer who totally owns the stage, doesn’t let the moment intimidate them and expresses themselves in the most uncompromisingly honest way. In my opinion, this is what we do really well, and it’s what connects most with the audience. We have always considered ourselves a live band, and we feel that our live show is where the emotion that goes into our art really flourishes, and so the most important thing to us is to convey to the audience that we really believe every word and every note of what we’re playing. I think that the reactions to our live show started to become really positive when the belief in what we’re doing began to crystallise.