Let’s give a warm welcome to musician, poet and karaoke enthusiast, Charles Battle in his Bumpershine contributing debut. Check out his take on Wednesday night’s sold out Warpaint show at The Studio at Webster Hall below. -ed.
Warpaint at The Studio at Webster Hall (12/01/10)
by Charles Battle
It’s 1989 again in 2010 and somewhere Robert Smith is smiling through smeared make-up. Warpaint, a four-gal group formed in LA in 2004, played the first of two NYC shows last night at The Studio at Webster Hall, bringing to The Studio’s conspicuously disheveled, winter-bearded crowd an hour’s worth of music that harkened back to the best of Disintegration-era Cure. Brooding and ethereal, Warpaint’s debut LP, The Fool, was released in late October to a warm, if not exuberant, critical reception [Their debut EP Exquisite Corpse was re-released by Rough Trade on Nov. 22 -ed.]. Times are grim in America, and Warpaint’s dark paeans to unrequited love and loneliness seem a fitting accompaniment to these desperate days.
The Fool is an accomplished album, but, as with any up-and-coming band, it’s always a question of whether or not the studio magic translates live. By the time Warpaint got to the third song of their set, “Composure,” any doubts I had about the band’s ability to deliver on stage were put aside. A tight group all around—no flubs or fuck-ups here—I was most impressed by bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg and drummer Stella Mozgawa. Lindberg’s intricate, deftly handled bass lines are in many ways the most melodic element of the Warpaint sound, which focuses more on mood than melody; listen to her playing during the chorus of the band’s popular single, “Undertow,” if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Similarly, Mozgawa’s drumming, which incorporates jungle beat rhythms and elemental percussive gestures—an eighth-note pattern played on a drum rim rather than a hi-hat, say—provides both the driving force behind the band and an interesting platform for the hauntingly spare harmonies and effects-laden guitar arpeggios of vocalists/guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman. Speaking of Kokal and Wayman, it should be noted that, despite recurring problems with their monitor levels, their harmonies were spot-on all night. If the creepy supernatural twins from The Shining started a vocal group, they’d probably harmonize a lot like this pair.
Though its members are clearly talented instrumentalists—or multi-instrumentalists as Mozgawa and Wayman proved when they switched places for “Set Your Arms Down”—Warpaint rarely crafts its songs to include extended solo passages. For that reason I was perplexed by their decision to close the set with what seemed to be a somewhat perfunctory jam. I was also sorry that the gorgeous and devastating waltz, “Baby,” didn’t make its way into the set list. Still, these are relatively minor complaints for what was in general a mesmerizing performance. Those catching the ladies tonight at The Music Hall of Williamsburg are in for a treat.
Check out Wednesday night’s set list, more Warpaint tour dates and a music video for “Undertow” after the jump.
Warpaint at The Studio Webster Hall Set List (12/01/10)
6. Set Your Arms Down
– Set list via Star Beat Music
Warpaint 2010-2011 Tour Dates
DEC 03 Making Time @ VOYEUR Philadelphia, PA
DEC 04 Rock and Roll Hotel Washington, D.C.
DEC 10 The Troubadour West Hollywood, CA
DEC 12 The Troubadour West Hollywood, CA
JAN 31 LANEWAY FESTIVAL Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
FEB 04 LANEWAY FESTIVAL Brisbane, QLD, AUSTRALIA
FEB 05 LANEWAY FESTIVAL Melbourne, VIC, AUSTRALIA
FEB 06 LANEWAY FESTIVAL Sydney, NSW, AUSTRALIA
FEB 08 OXFORD ART FACTORY Sydney, NSW, AUSTRALIA
FEB 09 NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB Melbourne, VIC, AUSTRALIA
FEB 10 NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB Melbourne, VIC, AUSTRALIA
FEB 11 LANEWAY FESTIVAL Adelaide, SA, AUSTRALIA
FEB 12 LANEWAY FESTIVAL Perth, WA, AUSTRALIA
FEB 21 O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE London, UNITED KINGDOM