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To like Warpaint’s support, Connan Mockasin, is clearly to love them. This came across blindingly in the night’s opening set with some of their careless psychedelic blues proving the perfect soundtrack to a smoke filled room but other tracks sounding more like a year seven schoolboy who just found the pitch bend function on a Yamaha keyboard. Tracks of theirs like ‘Forever Dolphin Love’ were received with much adoration from their fans but met with certain hostility from new comers to the sound. When this band were in full blues mode and the lead singers hair was covering his face there was a sleaziness and bullishness to the songs that made for good viewing however at times the New Zealand outfit got just a little bit tiresome.

Los Angeles four piece Warpaint were one of the main hopes for 2010/11 and they haven’t disappointed. What made this show so impressive were moments where their almost anonymous drones and echoed strums were met with a snare inflicted racy beat and it felt like ‘a Warpaint song’. For a band to create such a sonic identity after just one LP is no mean feat. This identity carried through as a familiar cheer of affection rose on the opening strums of lead single ‘Undertow’. Opener ‘Set Your Arms Down’ saw the band create that uneasy vacancy that was so prominent on their debut in front of an expectant crowd. In some tracks like ‘Bees’ and ‘Composure’ some of the vocal was lost under the heavy distortion but it didn’t really matter; their melodies are so layered that the bits one audience member might lose will be the stand out sounds for another. The sound Warpaint created was almost like a mantra that made songs morph in to one another seamlessly. Even the penultimate ‘Baby’ that was an acoustic performance from lead singer Emily Kokal seemed to merge in to the sound of the night effortlessly. It’s fair to say that on closing track ‘Elephants’ the extended crescendos became a little bit indulgent and possibly took away from the melodies that make Warpaint such a hypnotic band but their live show captured the space, depth and energy of their 2010 flawlessly.

Words: Duncan Harrison
Photos: Laura Palmer
Video: Yatin Amin (from last year’s gig at Bristol Cooler)