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Live Review: Warpaint at the Knitting Factory

Danielle Johnsen :: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 1:06 pm

After listening to Warpaint’s first EP “Exquisite Corpse” to the point of obsession, I was fearful to see them perform last night at The Knitting Factory. Sometimes bands are a pale imitation of their recorded selves live, but Warpaint exceeded my expectation and more with their impeccably tight and transcendental set, which had a sold out crowd entranced and dancing along. Coming off of their successful Bonnaroo set, the band stopped by NYC to play two sold out shows, and reintroduce themselves to the music scene that fell head over heels after last year’s CMJ performance. At the conclusion of last night’s show and their nearly ten minute jammy version of “Elephant”, which garnered them a spot on Pitchfork’s Top 100 of 2009, I felt like I was let in on a secret the whole music world will soon know about.

Its a rare treat nowadays to see a band right before they set the world on fire. Warpaint is the perfect assortment, with their hypnotic vocals reminiscent of folk chanteuses like Chan Marshall and Beth Orton, laid over intricate psychedelic/shoegazey style guitars and paired with an enthusiastic rhythm section. The four-piece, who all happen to be very attractive ladies, ooze cool on the stage, transitioning from a jammy breakdown to a full-force dance trance effortlessly. It’s like a doo wop girl group on acid, and its amazing. The band is comprised of Emily Kokal (vocals & guitar), Jenny Lee Lindberg (vocals & bass), Theresa Wayman (vocals & guitar) and the most recent addition to the lineup, drummer Stella Mozagawa. From last night’s performance, it seems that the ladies have found an inspiring rhythm, as to wander through vocal parts with a zeal and playfulness rarely seen, while maintaining the full integrity of the folk-meets-shoegaze instrumentals they are able to execute perfectly live.

One of my favorite songs is “Billie Holiday” from their John Frusciante mixed EP, where they artfully intertwine their acoustic ballad with Mary Wells’ “My Guy“, to create their own mesmerizing song. Not to get all girl crushy, but this band has what rock so desperately needs right now, enchanting vocals with psych-folk style riffs delivered with the technique and fluidity of a band three times their age. With a vast collection of influences ranging from Southern California psych rock to Britain girl groups to post-punk, Warpaint have etched out their own unique sound. The band is currently in the studio working on their first full length with producer Tom Biller, which will be released by Rough Trade Records later this year. Kokal has said that the full length will be a bit of a departure from the EP, and they are looking into bringing more electronic elements, as well as acoustic songs, to their well-orchestrated sound.Whichever way they go its damn near impossible for their full length not to be successful. And luckily for us New Yorkers, the ladies are set to settle down here next year, hopefully providing a lovely jolt to the somewhat over saturated rock scene here. So do yourself a favor, go out and get their EP, put it permanently on repeat and if you can, catch one of their inspiring live performances. And if you plan on attending Lollapalooza and/or the Reading Festival later this Summer, make sure to catch their highly anticipated sets. To describe Warpaintas “a band to watch” is an understatement.