For a few years now, I've been a big fan of the Warpaint, the all girl band from Los Angeles. For two full length albums and an EP I've been moderately obsessed, and on Tuesday I finally got a chance to witness the band live. The venue in New Orleans, Republic, sometimes leaves something to be desired in the type of clientele that visit there, but tonight it was a pretty good mix of people.
Anyway, we arrived right as opener Liam Finn was getting on stage. Now, I had never heard of him before tonight, but I really wish I had. The band, made up of Finn, his brother, his son, and two groovy ladies are amazing. I found them to be mesmerizing to watch. Sometimes you have to sit through undesirable openers, but tonight the band playing first was thankfully a joy to watch. The music reminded me at different times of many different bands from the classic era. Some things reminded me of Pink Floyd, others the Rolling Stones, and others just straight ahead gnarly rock and roll. You might think this was a bad thing, but it you listen to it you can feel the influences and accept them. They really do make it their own. Honestly, I couldn't say a bad thing about the band, and I'll be tracking down some of their material very, very soon. Also, the last song featured the Warpaint drummer, Stella, pounding away on the kit. It was awesome to see her play way more intensely than she's required on the Warpaint records, and it got everyone in the crowd stoked for what was coming next.
After a quick break and rearranging of the equipment on stage, it was Warpaint time. Playing in front of a backdrop of the newest album cover, the ladies came out and quickly settled into set opener “Biggy.” Like much of their catalog, it's a slow burn of a sensual nature and although it's a bit slow, it's an excellent choice for an opener. One of the things I like most about the band is the nature in which they consistently switch instruments and rolls in the band. Sometimes Theresa Wayman takes the lead and wow's the crowd with her swagger, and other times Emily mixes her keyboard playing with a different but equally effective vocal style. Most things about two singers in a band are cheesy, but for Warpaint it really adds to it. The set was mixed pretty good among all of their releases, and although they didn't play their best song in my opinion(Billie Holiday), you really couldn't ask for a better show for twenty bucks. Many songs included jam sessions, which is always a plus. “Composure” has all the funk on the record, and going straight into “Undertow” following that was perfectly executed.
Really though, all the band members were really on this night, and the energy and their love for New Orleans really did show. Finally, after a good bit of time on the set, the band returned for a two song encore. “Drive,” was another textured piece of hypnotic music from the ladies, and it set up the closing song nicely. Finally, we get to “Elephants.” Let me just say the album version is great, but the live version is completely killer. The buildup in the track was pulled off flawlessly, and the big closing was just what you would want out of a last song. The band then went straight into a pretty extended jam of various layers and textures and noises. To say the least, it was awesome and one of the best parts to the entire set.
Lastly, if you never heard of this band, they're a band you need in your life. Go see them, and Liam Finn. Buy the merch. Thanks for reading.
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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