Warpaint + Richard In My Mind @ Oxford Art Factory (08.02.11)
It would be unfair to classify Warpaint as a girl band, even though in reality this is what they are. It seems as though these days there is an ‘automatic reputation’ that surrounds the contemporary ‘girl band’; in their mind people either default to ‘too poppy and romantic’, ‘too dissonant and loud’, or ‘too pre-menstrual’… However! Warpaint have not lived up to any of these preconceived reputations and have branched out on their own journey of discovery incorporating elements of rock, thrash, dream-pop, and funk – an odd polygamous marriage of sorts yes, but freaking incredible.
(Just so you know, I don’t usually swear when I write, and this review has managed to remain a virgin to this so far; but I am already fast running out of words to describe just how incredible Warpaint are… and I haven’t even started writing about the gig itself yet.)
One thing I love about the Oxford Art Factory is that it is intimate; there is no barrier between the stage and the crowd, you can see the sweat beading up on the faces of the people playing and when it is packed, the vibe just resonates. This gig was a small slice of heaven on earth.
I was bountifully blessed to see the support band; Richard In Your Mind… Wow. If you are reading this and like Tame Impala, Dumbo Gets Mad, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart and Beach House, you will love these guys. They take ’60s rock and add a twist of synth and some tight snares to produce a bouncy, compact yet placid performance. The guys in Richard In Your Mind really know how to put on a show (whether they are aware of this or not) – everyone in the crowd found themselves uncontrollably moved by their music.
Warpaint were on stage fifteen minutes late, and I’d felt like a little kid needing to pee waiting for them to drag their sorry asses on stage, but all was soon forgiven and forgotten when they opened with ‘Bees’ – holy crap. I’m reliving the moment in my head right now when the drummer kicked off with her Latin-edged thrash-detailed beat, and it’s still blowing my mind.
The girls in Warpaint are quiet as individuals and modest; they don’t talk much and they don’t entertain with their words (unless they are sung), but the eye contact they make with the crowd and the freshness of their performance say more than any pre-rehearsed joke ever could. There is an innocence within the band that is so clearly depicted in their live gig; the musicians and bands they have been influenced by don’t dictate what they produce, but instead have been melted together and intensified with their own flavour which in turn radiates everything new and exciting these chicks have to offer. Do it. Go see them.
Their set included many tracks from their newest LP The Fool which was released early last year, including “Bees”, “Undertow”, “Set Your Arms Down”, “Composure” and “Warpaint”, as well as other released tracks like “Stars” and “Elephants”. I was a little disappointed not to hear my other favourites “Shadows” and “Billie Holiday”, but I guess they will be impetus to see them next time they’re in town – not that I would miss it anyway.
It’s a real pleasure to see how all four girls act and react to each other on stage. They feed off each others energy and seem to be so ‘in touch’ with what is going on with everything. They spontaneously burst into “jam sesh” mode at different times throughout their set, and at this gig, for the impulsive five minute sections where they followed a tangent off into the sunset and back again, not one person in the whole of the Oxford Art Factory wasn’t bangin’ their head. Although, what’s really refreshing about the whole live set is that they all look so at peace with an instrument in hand. Words can’t really describe it, but fuck (there I go, I said it), those chicks can really play.
I have officially dubbed Warpaint at the Oxford Art Factory my favourite gig of 2011 so far. I’m serious. If you were there, you are now my cosmic family, and if you weren’t, sucked in. See them next time.