On Monday 10th July 2017, Warpaint were set to take the stage, in the neoclassical surroundings of Somerset House. It was a summer evening that Britain could be proud of; the warm night air circling through busy and eager audience, as they awaited the main event. Support act YAK readied the crowd with their excitable punk-like, alternative psychedelic rock sound. Although the front man and lead guitarist didn’t seem to be feeling the vibe that night, the over excited, life-loving drummer brought smiles to faces as did their music, which was drawing people in as the final parts of the crowd came in the open air venue in dribs and drabs.
As the time of their stage presence grew near, the tension in the air was concentrated. The lights burst on as the four members of the band emerged onto stage, four female silhouettes surrounded by yellow smoke as ‘Heads-Up’ (the title track of their latest album released) begun. Positioned in a trapezium formation with Theresa Wayman (guitarist and vocals) and Emily Kokal (guitarist and vocals) as the front two closer points and Jenny-Lee Lindberg (bassist and vocals) and Stella Mogwaza (drummer) as the back two wider points – who were both on platforms. With Mozgawa stomping out heavy beats on her elevated drum-kit; the rest of the band followed suit and were all playing in glorious sync as the track progressed and developed. Breaking down into a bass heavy, funky, indie yet total psychedelic mouth-watering L.A sound, the women had made an atmospheric entrance, entrancing the entire crowd. Fusing and transitioning effortlessly from ‘Heads-Up’ to ‘Krimson’, then to their most well-known song ‘Undertow’ before addressing the crowd for the first time.
The band played a variety of tracks from their album releases over the years (Exquisite Corpse, The Fool, Warpaint and Heads-up). Mixing up the delivery from more of a rhythmic indie, to a darker more murky feel, as they began to play ‘CC’ in their second wave of musical offerings. A completely different feel to the rest of the music played so far. Except for the fact it was utterly transfixing and hypnotic with the steady beat of the drum encouraging you to move to it. The main vocals of Kokal, Wayman and Lindenberg were so powerfuly harmonised in the most awe-striking way. A haunting siren howl which couldn’t sound more alluring, especially with the echo effects placed on the vocals – it felt as if real witch-craft was at play.
The quartet’s performance of ‘Elephants’ was the most mind-altering of the evening; it broke down into a hallucinogenic, vivid show of all the talents on offer. With total unity with the synchronicity of the band members, including lights and smoke leaving all four women as silhouettes once again, making it more mysterious. Another noteworthy moment, was during the song ‘Love Is to Die’ the audience were all engaged; all dancing and singing along. The penultimate song was the ever catchy, popular, light and sugary sweet ‘New Song’ which ramped up the energy before finishing with Disco//Very, which was certainly very disco, a shady funk enriched bassline and vocals taking different directions, yet still remaining in tune to the sense of the song.
Interactions with the crowd were minimal other than a few thank-yous for applause and support since 2010, track introducing and the occasional comment about how beautiful and warm the night was. Warpaint’s music, plus the fantastic lighting and sound engineering was more than enough entertainment. The band shied away from playing more their more tender material, (such as ‘Baby’ and ‘Billie Holiday’) which would have given the show another dimensional feel and would have been beautiful given the surroundings.
A total mind blowing experience, the four women sounded so flawless and powerful altogether - confirming and cementing the hype that has surrounded this band since their humble beginnings.
Love Is To Die