If you were wondering where all the Brooklyn hipster women were this past Thursday, from what I observed that night, the answer likely could have been the Music Hall of Williamsburg waiting in anticipation for the four ladies of LA-based band Warpaint to take the stage. Although there certainly were men in the crowd, it was those of the female sex that really seemed to be letting out all the hoots and hollers around 11:20pm when the fierce foursome began their set.
With screams of “I love you!” and mummers of “they are so cute!” from the girls standing behind me, they ripped into their tunes. Their recently released full-length album, The Fool, is full of dark, haunting riffs layered with the sweet (and sometimes spooky) girlish vocals from founding members Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman, that I wasn’t sure would come off as particularly interesting live.
But what I found was the opposite — the women of Warpaint have an incredible band dynamic — it’s not in your face, but there is some sort of energy emanating from the group as they pound through their songs. I found their tunes had a lot more depth and power when performed live. Drummer Stella Mozgawa is a sight to be seen — a rhythm section powerhouse, churning out thumping, echoing beats that brings vibrancy and complexity to songs that seem to fall flat in the recording material.
I love that Warpaint is a group of chicks who kind of defy my perception of what LA girl bands are like. They are like the anti-The Like, these girls really know how to play music and don’t seem to be concerned about looking like fashion models. I also love that their sound is distinctly non-poppy. There’s something about the way that other young women respond to this band that reminds me a bit of the Riot Grrrl vibe. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen so many girls up front at a show swooning when no man was involved. It actually makes me a little proud that these ladies are doing it for themselves and finding such a rabid and loyal following.
Openers Rewards, the brainchild of Chairlift’s Aaron Pfenning, didn’t get as much love from the crowd — in fact there was some downright hatred flung at the band, with at least three hecklers standing close to the stage spewing out insults like, “bring on the Killers!” (Pfenning performed as an opener for Brandon Flowers‘s solo European tour).
Established musicians like Dev Hynes (of Lightspeed Champion) on guitar, Chris Egan (of Adam Green) on drums, and Christian Owens on bass, Pfenning somewhat stumbled through a patchy beginning, with a technical difficulty interrupting the flow of the first song, appearing to be a bit distracted, and hyper-aware of the audience.
With long hair hanging in front of his face, Pfenning shyly made it through the set of songs that were reminiscent of breathy, synth-loving 80’s bands like The Cure and INXS. All in all I thought their performance was enjoyable, if flawed, but didn’t think they merited all the seemingly bad vibes the crowd was giving off.