Warpaint - Photo: Peter Rea

Warpaint – Photo’s: Peter Rea


An energetic aura surrounds Warpaint – these 4 ladies from LA have together developed a way of conveying a message with deep sincerity and emotion, whether it be about darker times, or simply about having fun. Their spirit of adventure is evidently infectious – there’s disappointment at the door for many, at this, one of Manchester’s largest and most beautiful venues.

The Garden support – later described by Warpaint bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg as “The best band in the world”, they welcome me into this grand hall with a display of powerful, rapid drumming and killer bass guitar riffs. These young identical twins from California rattle through a range of 1-2 minute lo-fi garage-punk tunes with great ferocity and a cheeky swagger, pausing briefly in between to catch their breath.

Have we ever seen an apple walking around, they ask? No! I think one of their tunes is about 5 seconds long? Maybe it was a botched intro? It doesn’t matter – it was a perfectly formed, brief, noise. This drummer really is fast. “We be grindin’…”, they certainly are. At times, it sounds like surf-doom, and at others, like Adam and The Ants, or  college rock… I could keep going. It’s like a bombardment of random 90’s MTV soundbites. I really enjoyed their set. If you have a short attention span, and a bit of attitude, go look them up.

Warpaint stroll on stage to great acclamation. They look as casual as ever, standing with their amps huddled around them in a small portion of the rather large stage. Rope lights snake between their instruments and feet as they stand in front of a brilliantly lit poster of their latest album artwork.

They start with their self titled song from their 1st album ‘The Fool’. The cool, deep guitar riff leads to a rattling regimental drum roll from Stella Mozgawa, followed by Theresa Wayman’s pure vocal, and an understated deep bass line. Emily Kokal’s guitar add’s lightness as the tune builds to a thrilling, groovy chorus. Whatever genre they fit into, one thing is for sure – this is guitar music that you can really dance to. ‘Composure’, from the the same album, follows. They shout in unison like a group of unruly school girls before relaxing and swaying into the funky, composed verse.

I thought I’d have a great view from the balcony at the side, where I could just sit and tap my feet and casually watch the show, but others around me have other ideas. I surprisingly find myself in the middle of the dancing section. From their latest, self titled album – ‘Love Is To Die’ is extended with some improvisation and mischief. Stella throws the microphone into the crowd and enthusiastic young female fans take it in turns to sing “bub bub baa” into it.

‘Undertow’ makes sure we’re all sufficiently warmed up, so they can try a slow one on us. After bringing about a hush, new single ‘No Way Out’ progresses from just vocal and bass to another danceable tune, carried by a deep groove.

Post-gig Albert Hall

The next 3 songs are simply perfect – kicked off by the sublime intro to ‘Keep It Healthy’, anyone who hasn’t been dancing, or at least let go a little, is now. I’d pre-imaged ‘Disco/Very’ being performed in this space, and the reality comes close. I defy anyone to listen to that song without moving their head/favoured foot, a lot. The temperature has been turned right up. One of their earlier tunes ‘Elephants’ concludes the trilogy of uplifting, sexy and irresistible songs – they start it with a slow tempo and crank it up after the verse. “I’ll break your heart” rings out around the venue… the line “I wonder where you are” floods the space completely, emanating beyond the high ceiling. Thrilling.

‘Biggy’ brings us back down to earth in an impressive manor, before they briefly leave the stage. If they delay coming back for much longer, the balcony will collapse due to the stomping. ‘No Way Out’ b-side ‘I’ll Start Believing’ postpones the riot, and then the lush ‘Burgundy’ blends into ‘Krimson’ – a tune that reminds me of The Police for some reason – which threatens, again, to bring the house down. “I need a little room to sway”. All four onstage scream in unison, energising the onlooking crowd.

… and that’s where it ends. Warpaint are one of those bands who appear as though they can do no wrong. Their sound is evolving, they’re exploring new ideas in their own distinct way, and they’re having a ball in the process. There are a number of other tunes that I’d like to have heard tonight, such is the depth of their back catalogue already. I’m addicted to the vibe that they create. I guess I’ll just have to catch them for a 4th time.

WARPAINT Official | Facebook | Twitter

THE GARDEN Official | Facebook | Bandcamp

Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.