Warpaint (The Biltmore.Vancouver.03/19/11)

Warpaint’s debut album, The Fool, has been in regular rotation on my iPod since the fall. I fell hard for the L.A. band’s guitar tones – those ringing, chorus pedal effects that recall early singles by The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Cocteau Twins. When I saw the quartet had booked a Vancouver date on their upcoming tour, I made sure to snap up a pair of tickets.

The band rolled into town a few weekend ago. After a cocktail (or two) at a Main Street bar, my man and I headed over to a packed-to-the-rafters Biltmore. If you’ve ever been to this venue, you’ll know that the stage is practically at ground level, making it impossible to see anything – especially if you’re a 5’6 lady like myself. Luckily, I found a pretty good perch off to the side (standing up on the steps near the banquette tables), where I could see two of the four band members in action.

Going into the show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Theresa Wayman and Emily Kokal’s ethereal guitar melodies could have easily been buried under a cruddy mix or sounded wispy and unstructured in a live setting. But five seconds into the opening song, “Set Your Arms Down”, it was obvious we were in for a superb show. The guitars were clear and sparkling. Rhythm section duo Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa (bass and drums respectively) proved themselves to be the secret weapon of the performance, supplying power and heft to the atmospheric music. Lindberg also scores extra points for playing a sweet instrument – a white, vintage Rickenbacker.

I can’t say enough good things about Warpaint’s live show. The only thing I would quibble with is their decision to include the song “Billie Holiday” in their set list, a meandering track from their EP, Exquisite Corpse. It killed the momentum of the set for me; personally, I would have rather heard the ballad, “Baby” from their full-length. Anyway, that’s just one small criticism of an otherwise exceptional show.

Have any of you guys seen Warpaint live? If so, what did you think? I’d love to hear your comments.

If you haven’t heard of this band before, here are a couple of tracks to check out.

(P.S. Their single “Undertow” is generating the most buzz right now, but I already wrote about that one a few months back.)


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