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

BREVIEW: Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16

Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16 / By Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review






Words by Billy Beale / Pics by Michelle Martin

Slaves have had such a fast and dramatic rise to stardom that it’s almost baffling. It feels like just yesterday they were a plucky duo of dapper punks with a monochrome Bandcamp page. Now they’re selling out most dates of their UK tour, they’re on their second top-10 album and have had Mike D from the Beastie Boys produce it. It would be baffling if it weren’t for their infectiously likable music.Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16 / By Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

Openers Shame were first in the queue to play to a dense standing crowd of eager early arrivers. In their oversized 80s-style outfits they look like extras from Weekend at Bernie’s, but their sound is very much on the trend of the current indie zeitgeist.

Twangy single note guitar lines, swashes of delay and reverb with a Fat Whites-esque vocal will likely go down as The Sound of UK Indie 2016 and Shame tick all the boxes in that category. Although they seem to have something of an identity crisis, flailing about in a way that suits music much heavier than they play.

Both second support Life and openers Shame had dedicated vocalists that exhausted all that one can do in terms of waving a mic stand about. Life’s vocalist Mez is like a Northern version of The Horrors’ Faris Badwan, with moves and shapes lifted straight from Jarvis Cocker’s repertoire. Despite having just one guitarist to Shame’s two, Life sound much more like a guitar band, with whammy bar dives and high gain solos scattered between their spat-out lyrics and driving discordant rhythms. Their set ends on a loud and cacophonous number. The bewildered audience forgets to applaud. I hope Life realise that the omission of claps doesn’t mean they did a bad job.

“Bring him out here, I wanna see him” says Slaves guitarist Laurie Vincent, like a punk Caesar with knuckle tats and a Fender Mustang. A stage invader has been foiled – presumably rather forcefully – by the security staff and Vincent Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16 / By Michelle Martin © Birmingham Reviewis concerned. “The security people have got a job to do but, sometimes mistakes are made. I just wanna see he’s alright”. Drummer Isaac Holman is out of sight, presumably intervening.

The Defendant is brought before Vincent. “Do you admit that you’ve been a very naughty boy?” he asks like a Pythonesque Judge. He presides over an enforced hug between the invader and the security staff; Holman returns to his mark behind the drums and the set resumes.

There is a softness to Slaves that doesn’t always manage to come across in their music. They’ve achieved a lot with their format without compromising their sound – primal, angry and loud. There is an awful amount of empty space on the stage but Isaac (shirtless throughout) paces menacingly when he’s not fueling the rhythm engine, while Laurie (shirtless for the encore) almost never stops. Throwing the headstock of his guitar about like he’s fighting off an invisible opponent, teetering on the edge of the monitors and classic moves like Chuck Berry’s one-legged hop.

If the crowd before Slaves were water molecules coming to the boil, they erupted like geyser when tonight’s headliners started. There must have been at least 10 crowd surfers during ‘Steer Clear’, a softer song and definitely not the usual crowd surfing tune. It’s one of the few moments in Slaves’ set where they deviate from their usual gear – flat out. Slaves don’t seem to expect, or want, to be taken seriously, but in these moments where they deviate their delivery is hard to judge. The deadpan of a comedy band, like Flight of the Conchords when they send up a particular genre, feels a bit too close to the seemingly earnest Slaves when they play to a lofi electronic beat.Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16 / By Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

It’s hard for them to win because their setup is the perfect tool for the full-on, raging, up-to-eleven sound that anything else seems out of place. “You’re so boring when you’re nice”. But the alternative is a flat, undynamic set that lacks variation.

Slaves strike a nice balance, but everybody seems more comfortable with the more moshable tracks. It was refreshing to see ‘Girl Fight’ – mere seconds of anger and trashing – return to the set; it’s an excellent representation of the band because it says so much with so little.

Defying tradition, Slaves finish on newer single – ‘Spit It Out’. An audience member finally makes it on stage and pulls a face before a road crew member steps purposefully towards him, frightening him off. Vincent casts his guitar to the ground and Slaves leave the stage filled with dense feedback.

Slaves live sound is a different beast to the one they showed on either of their major albums. They’re the perfect rock n’ roll band for right now and they’ve pushed the limits of their sound to the very extreme. It will be interesting to see what avenues Slaves go down in future and whether they will sound the same in 2017. 

For more on Slaves, visit www.youareallslaves.com

For more from the O2 Academy (B’ham), visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham

For more from SJM Concerts/Gigs & Tours, including full events listings & online tickets sales, visit www.gigsandtours.com





BPREVIEW: Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16

Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16




Words by Billy Beale

Kentish punk duo, Slaves, hit Birmingham’s O2 Academy on Saturday 19th November – with bands Life and Shame joining them as support.birm_prev-logo-main-lr

Doors open at 7pm with an 11pm curfew. Tickets are priced at £18 (+booking fee) as presented by SJM Concerts. For direct gig info & online ticket sales, click here.

Slaves’ rise to prominence has been nothing short of meteoric. One minute they are opening shows for veteran two-piece Blood Red Shoes, next they are featured all over Radio 1 and have a top 10 Mercury-nominated album. Not bad for two guys with half a drum kit and a lot of guitar amps.

This year sees a new album release (Take Control, released back on 30th September) and a string of shows across the country, many of which are sold out. Slaves have become notorious for their high-energy live shows that wind crowds Slaves - Take Control tourinto a frenzy, stage antics that are impressive feats of athleticism and crowd surfs that can dislocate shoulders. One such incident back in 2015 took one of drummer Isaac’s arms out of action.

Since their first major release – 2015’s Are You Satisfied?Slaves’ schedule has been non-stop touring, acclaimed festival appearances (home and abroad, including a secret set at Reading) and even an exhibition for guitarist Laurie Vincent’s artwork during the Edinburgh Fringe.

Called ‘Disillusioned’, the show featured his bold, childlike take on contemporary social and political issues. It’s not unlike Slaves’ music, which is primal and raw, yet focused on the circumstances in broader society. The cover art for Take Control is some of Laurie’s work and is an obvious nod to the balaclavas worn by the musical and political Russian protest group Pussy Riot.

How they found the time this past year to write another album, secure Beastie Boy Mike D as producer, and get in the studio to record it is a mystery. But record one they have, with new material getting the live racket treatment on their current tour, including new singles ‘Spit It Out’ and ‘People That You Meet’.

‘Spit It Out’ – Slaves

Slaves perform at the O2 Academy in Birmingham on Saturday 19th November – with Life and Shame as support. For direct gig info & online ticket sales, click here. 


For more on Slaves, visit www.youareallslaves.com

For more on Life, visit www.lifeband.co.uk

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


For more from the O2 Academy (B’ham), visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham

For more from SJM Concerts/Gigs & Tours, including full events listings & online tickets sales, visit www.gigsandtours.com