Warpaint played a blistering, mystifying set at Union Transfer
I’ve long said that Warpaint’s 2014 self-titled LP was the kind of music Radiohead should be making. Then again, the very fact that the Los Angeles 4-piece is churning out records at (or really, above) the standard of the most influential band in music is saying something (and it’s not just because they too work with Nigel Godrich). And by no means is Warpaint just another Radiohead pastiche project; they’ve nestled themselves quite comfortably into their own corner of the music world. So while you might think it would be entirely unfair to compare what happened last night to a Radiohead show, the very fact that I can’t get Warpaint’s ethereal images and haunting sounds out of my head is testimony that really, you can.
I should probably preface the rest of this review by saying that there was no Kurt Vile appearance this time. With that out of the way, I’m not quite sure where to begin; it was that good. Warpaint’s 14-song set was not exactly a hit-parade, but instead featured some mind-blowing jams, unmatched musicianship from end to end, and some heartwarming giggles and face-making here and there (they’re not Haim, but it would be easy to mistake the women of Warpaint for sisters). Emily, Theresa, Jenny and Stella took the stage to the new record’s all-too-familiar overture, which lead directly into a powerful “Keep It Healthy.” I for one was ecstatic to hear the modern Beatles-y grooves of “Feeling Alright”. Something about the dry wash of Stella’s distinctive drumming and the bubbly low end of Jenny’s fierce bass-playing gets me every time.
To my surprise, these L.A. sirens had a few tricks up their sleeves, namely a blistering triplet jam to finish out a sweltering “Bees”. They also whipped out a new track, “No Way Out,” a 7-minute thematic voyage through a low-key cyber ballad, a pulsating disco beat and a psychedelic half-time coda. Speaking of all things disco, “Disco//very” still has me reeling. And though Emily’s keyboard part hit a few false notes on “Biggy”, she more than made up for it on the microphone for the show’s closer, “Elephants”.
Opening for Warpaint was Guy Blakeslee, best known for his work with Entrance (now known as The Entrance Band). Never before have I seen such a spirited 45 minutes of music. Performing predominantly tracks off his 2014 LP, Ophelia Slowly, Blakeslee captivated the UT crowd with gut-wrenching emotions and guitar solos played while spinning in dizzying circles. Perhaps most remarkable was his solo rendition of Dave Von Ronk’s “Green, Green Rocky Road.” The dude’s got pipes of gold. Between Blakeslee’s ghostly modern folk and Warpaint’s truly mystifying set, I have no shame in saying that last night was one for the books. These thoughts haunt me still.