BPREVIEW: Warpaint @ O2 Institute 22.03.17

BPREVIEW: Warpaint @ O2 Institute 22.03.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

Words by Helen Knott / Pics by Rob Hadley

Warpaint almost split up before recording last year’s album, Heads Up. After 18 months on the road the LA group’s four members took some time to pursue solo endeavors, with bassist Jenny Lee Linberg releasing a solo album and Stella Mozgawa drumming for a number of artists, including Kurt Vile. They almost didn’t reunite.

Happily they did, and the resulting album transmits a rediscovered joy of playing music together. It feels freer and lighter than Warpaint’s previous releases, while still being meticulously crafted and beautifully produced. It stands up well to repeat listens.

Tonight’s gig at the O2 Institute is the first of a five-date UK tour, in the middle of a month-long European tour. Warpaint sidle onto the stage for an oddly low-key beginning to the show, with a ponderous instrumental introduction leading into the hypnotic ‘Keep it Healthy’, taken from their eponymous second album. It’s a gorgeous song showcasing the talents of Mozgawa, whose drumming is a focal point throughout the gig.

BPREVIEW: Warpaint @ O2 Institute 22.03.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review‘Heads Up’, the title track from their latest album, ups the pace; dancey guitar lines flutter in and out across a driving bass line. ‘Undertow’ (arguably still Warpaint’s best song, keeps up the momentum. The enchanting, eerie vocals are mantra-like, building to a satisfying guitar breakdown payoff.

Tonight’s set draws evenly from across the band’s three albums. By the middle of the gig this serves to highlight the fact that, throughout their career, Warpaint have written a lot of mid-tempo tracks. ‘No Way Out’, taken from a 2015 EP, meanders through seven quite dull minutes. ‘The Stall’, from the new album, is similarly uninspiring and ‘Stars’, a post-rock opus, may be carefully considered and executed, but ultimately fails to hold the attention.

Part of the problem is that the subtleties of Warpaint’s recorded work, particularly in the gorgeously produced new album, are lost in the muddy sound of the live arena. An issue too is the aloof, introspective nature of the band members; they have a lot of chemistry, but at times I feel like an outsider awkwardly gate crashing into their rehearsal room.BPREVIEW: Warpaint @ O2 Institute 22.03.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

Things pick up again with ‘Whiteout’, the opener from Heads Up. ‘Whiteout’ sounds more modern than much of Warpaint’s Cure-rock, with a funky, almost r‘n’b vibe benefiting from an impassioned vocal performance from Emily Kokal and insistent, woozy guitar triplets.

‘So Good’ and ‘New Song’ are also highlights of tonight’s gig, showcasing the pop sensibility of Warpaint’s most recent material. It’s the sound of a band that’s confident, adept and at ease with itself. Perhaps some time apart has done them good.

For more on Warpaint, visit www.warpaintwarpaint.com

For more from the O2 Institute, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

For more from Rough Trade, visit www.roughtrade.com

For more from Crosstown Concerts, visit www.crosstownconcerts.com

BPREVIEW: Warpaint @ O2 Institute 22.03.17



Words by Ed King

On Wednesday 22nd March, Warpaint come to the O2 Institute – with support from a band on the punkier side of the UK Rough Trade roster, Shame.

Doors open at 7pm with tickets priced at £21 (+booking fee), as presented by Crosstown Concerts. Minimum age for entry is 14 with under 16s requiring adult accompaniment. For direct gig info, including full venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

Warpaint come to the O2 Institute in Birmingham for the first date in their six date UK & Ireland tour, including a set at the BBC 6 Music Festival in Glasgow. On the road promoting their third studio album, Heads Up, Warpaint land back on British shores after six dates across mainland Europe.

And Heads Up is what’s it’s all about right now for Warpaint, with only a handful of songs from their latest LP making it onto the previous tour’s set list. As Theresa Wayman told Clash Magazine in late 2016, “right now we only have five new songs in the set, which doesn’t feel like enough”.

But Heads Up is an arguable transition for Warpaint, with a new approach to writing and recording bringing a broader spectrum of styles and tempo; the opiate haze from much of Warpaint’s back catalogue now has the odd disco biscuit bounce and white line shuffle to keep it on its toes. There’s even a Soulwax remix.

The crowds seem to be toying with a chance of pace too, as Warpaint’s last gig in Manchester received a respectable mosh pit response. “We played ‘Love Is To Die’, ‘New Song’ and ‘Disco/Very’ all in a row” continues Wayman in her interview with Clash, “and people were moshing pretty hard. But we did the same set in Edinburgh the night before and it was completely the opposite, so I don’t know what the secret is really.”

But with Jake Bercovici back at the helm, who produced Warpaint’s debut Exquisite Corpse EP, it’s not a total clean slate. And lots of Heads Up harks back to the shoegaze dream rock of releases gone by. Not that any of this matters until you see it on stage, and with Birmingham getting the first UK look at an amended set list it would be rude not to form a new opinion.

In the meantime, check out a couple of strands from the new Warpaint spectrum with the following tracks featured back to back on their Heads Up LP.

 ‘New Song’ (YouTube video) – Warpaint


‘The Stall’ (recorded by NPR Music at the 9:30 Club, Washington D.C.) – Warpaint

Warpaint perform at the O2 Institute on Wednesday 22nd March, with support from Shame – as presented Crosstown Concerts. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.


For more on Warpaint, visit www.warpaintwarpaint.com

For more on Shame, visit www.facebook.com/shamebanduk

For more from the O2 Institute, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham


For more from Rough Trade, visit www.roughtrade.com

For more from Crosstown Concerts, visit www.crosstownconcerts.com