“Be sure to note the key changes in the set, I guarantee you won’t need more than one finger to count them,” My friend advises from his Antipodean residence.
“Also try not mentioning who they’ve dated, as every review I’ve ever read has mentioned John Frusciante and Vincent Gallo…”
With LA hype-mongerers Warpaint, their sadly comes a furore of A-List hoopla. Other than the aforementioned musician and director, they have ties to a certain deceased Batman villain, and countless others only a Google click away.
Subsequently I have placed a self-imposed ‘super injunction’, and restrained myself from such wanton name-dropping.
Performing as part of Futureeverything 2011, the all girl four-piece have been described by the organisers as an ‘experimental rock quartet’ whose ‘ethereal sounds invite echoes of PJ Harvey and Cat Power’.
First gaining notoriety outside of California with EP, Exquisite Corpse (2008), the bands star has only continued to rise since they toured the UK last year.
“For the first three years we just played in Los Angeles,” explains bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg to Loud and Quiet magazine.
“People are familiar with us in LA, but that doesn’t mean that they’re familiar with you anywhere else.”
Seven months since the release of debut album, The Fool, and Warpaint’s ascending popularity has therefore been nothing short of bewildering.
Having last played Manchester’s Deaf Institute, the acclaim surrounding the group has seen them jump up a capacity for tonight’s show at the Ritz.
Opening with Set Your Arms Down and Warpaint, the Californian girls soon have the crowd in a state of mesmerised awe.
A robust version of Bees follows, however it is past single Undertow, with its nod to Nirvana’s Polly, which gets the biggest cheer of the night.
Guitar playing vocalists, Theresa Wayman and Emily Kokal, harmonise to perfection and watching the two interact and overlap is aurally brilliant. On the record you assume the vocals are merely tracked over one another, therefore to see/hear them performed up close is hypnotic.
The resonance of the live performance only continues as the set progresses, dispelling a sound that is powerful and enchanting.
A brief interlude to sing Happy Birthday for an audience member is proceeded by Composure, something for which many in the crowd seem to lack this evening. Whether it is the inebriated effects of the city’s footballing exploits, or just the hysterical lesbian fanbase who have descended on the ballroom, the constant stream of legless crowd members is startling.
As Kokal and Wayman entice and cajole the audience with their siren call, newest member Stella Mozgawa is a powerhouse behind the drums, maintaining the bands disparate styles with a uniting and tribal coherence.
Lindberg (Bass/Vocals) on the other hand appears in her own world, swaying and writhing around centre stage. Not uneasy on the eye, in many a band the Bra-less beauty would merely be relegated to the role of eye candy, yet her playing soon eradicates any such misogyny.
Whereas you could do yourself damage straining to hear the bass in some of Warpaints contemporaries, they put Lindberg’s brooding bass-lines at the centre of their sound. While being reminiscent of the Breeders, along with Mozgawa she helps to carry the long meandering jam that constitutes a live Warpaint set.
On entering the venue a poster declares ‘strict curfew 10pm’. Disregarding formalities the band play through any generic encore and delight the baying crowd with Elephants and Billie Holiday, which includes a slight refrain from the Supremes, My Guy.
“Thankyou for all the great music you have made” declares Kokal, before the band finish the night on an extended version of Beetles. It is a fitting finale with its strong, dark tone, suggestive of 80′s Manchester.
As the house lights come on it is clear to all that 60 minutes of Warpaint is clearly not enough. Far more multi-dimensional than their recorded output does them credit, as my pal down-under puts it so eloquently “They’re good live, but you can never mention an all girl band as being tight.”
WORDS by Adam Yare
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