Live Review

Warpaint, Electrowerkz, London

There’s no doubting Warpaint are a unit, now more than ever.

Warpaint’s music is designed to travel. Some open spaces are practically tailor-made to solely cater to the LA band’s dark, moody turns. Their new, self-titled album shows them drifting even further into an ether, one with layer upon layer of murky depths waiting to be encountered. Casual listeners either nestle right in or see it speed straight past. In an academy venue or even a festival, it’s possible that Warpaint’s music might just be there; full stop, nothing to see here. There’s an obvious beauty to it, a groove and a sway that once fully encountered doesn’t let up. But as a backdrop - its secondary form - there’s every chance it could simply exist instead of having an actual impact.

It’s fortunate, then, that anyone packed into the 250-capacity Electrowerkz meets the music head-on. There’s no breathing space, nowhere to wander. In fact, given the band’s recent tales of losing their minds by the Joshua Tree, jamming until their hearts burst, it’s a little like peering into a recording space, months before anybody else even knew this record was happening. Barriers firmly broken down, few experiences come more full-on and adrenaline-filled than this.

Intimacy is Warpaint’s greatest strength, and it manifests itself in all kinds of flooring forms on this new record. In what’s essentially a showcase of new material, this ‘launch night’ of sorts is partly filled by complete silence (out of respect, or maybe just curiosity) and the occasional deranged whoop, sometimes from the band, mostly courtesy of a maddeningly excited audience. At one stage, Emily Kokal introduces a new song that’s “not on the album”, and there’s a genuine, audible ‘eh-ma-gerrd’ from someone in the crowd.

The excitement is palpable, and it plays out from hushed beginnings into a funk-frenzied response to ‘Disco // Very’ and ‘Feeling Alright’; two standouts from ‘The Fool’’s follow-up that sound nigh-on DFA-approved, tight as a knot. There’s no doubting Warpaint are a unit, now more than ever. They laugh at each other’s terrible jokes (“you need to stay hydrated… hydrated… Hi - that’s the name of our next song!”) and they egg each other on into insane, almost endless solos.

Again, it’s like peering right into four musicians at the top of their game. Sometimes it’s almost as if they’re unaware anyone else is in the room. Silence, staring, whooping - it doesn’t matter. Rarely are a band more in their ‘zone’ than tonight’s gig.

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