Warpaint, a Los Angeles-based all-girl art rock group, took my concert napping v-card last Thursday night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. This doesn’t mean the concert was awful. For one thing, I was running on levels of sleep reserved for the very young and very dumb among us. For another, more important thing, the druggy, arty style of shoegaze music that Warpaint peddles, practically lulls a listener to sleep under the best of circumstances.
Anyway, I was conscious for the majority of Warpaint’s sold-out set, and what I saw mildly impressed me. Though Warpaint has been around in one form or another for six years—actress Shannyn Sossamon was once a member—their current line-up only solidified in 2009 with the addition of the very talented drummer Stella Mozgawa. In other words, they’re a young band, still sorting through some growing pains. But their debut LP The Fool and Thursday’s show are proof they’re a young band worth keeping an eye on.
Warpaint’s formula is deceptively simple: Mozgawa and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg work together as a dark, minimalist, and occasionally funky rhythm section, while vocalists/guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman trade guitar lines and snatches of melody. Shoegaze pioneers, The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, are an appropriate comparison; both bands were focused on tight, enduringly catchy song structures whereas Warpaint relies heavily on sound and atmosphere.
Maybe a little too heavily. Warpaint, both live and on The Fool, are never overtly bad, but there are stretches where they aren’t very interesting either. The heavily female audience at Thursday’s night show was politely responsive throughout, but they truly came alive when the group’s intriguing sound was tethered to an equally interesting song. “Undertow” and “Set Your Arms Down” went over extremely well, but the highlight of the night was “Bees,” which is moody and atmospheric but also exciting and—this is important—fun.
The Warpaint I saw on Thursday did a lot of things right, and they stand a good chance of knocking it out of the park on their next batch of songs. When they do, I’ll try to show up well rested.
Tags: focus, Music Hall of Williamsburg, The Fool, today, Warpaint, Williamsburg