Live Review: Warpaint @ Black Cat — 5/19/19

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Theresa Wayman fronts Warpaint at Roskilde Festival on June 28, 2017. (Photo by Krists Luhaers)

Dream rockers Warpaint took a break opening for MGMT to hop to Black Cat recently and play an absorbing set of 12 songs for a very full club.

Warpaint were competing with Game of Thrones and a lot of other bands in town on May 19, and the Los Angeles band hasn’t released any new music since Heads Up, the group’s third full-length album from 2016. Still, the four ladies drew a very attentive audience that filled Black Cat quite well.

Although it was an excellent show overall, the best certainly came for last. Warpaint’s setlist called for the band to perform 2014’s “Disco/Very” near the end but the band responded to a shouted audience request for “Bees” from their 2010 debut record, The Fool, and substituted the rarity for “Disco/Very” (which I honestly would had loved to hear — still it was cool to take a request like that).

On the buzzy “Bees,” Emily Kokal sang with her pleasant and dreamy lead vocal delivery, and the band swayed in time to Stella Mozgawa’s legato drums. Warpaint were as *delighted* to play the tune as the audience was to hear it.

Throughout the rest of the show, Theresa Wayman took lead vocals more often than not. Clad in a hoodie, Theresa made an early appearance on stage to sing a song with opening act Deafmute. Continuing to draw the hood around her head for the rest of the night, Theresa sounded strong and sure on showcase numbers like the relaxed “Undertow,” also from The Fool, early in the set and the happy, upbeat “New Song,” from Heads Up, toward the close.

Stream Heads Up by Warpaint on Spotify:

Emily certainly had her star turns as well, most notably seducing the audience with the powerful, trippy “Love Is to Die.” The affecting rise-and-fall pacing of the song and Emily’s made-for-dreampop voice floored us as surely as ever, making us wish we could set up home and live inside a song.

Although Warpaint as a whole and each member surely proved again to be phenomenal and distinctive, the standout player remained bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg. From her first appearance grooving to opening number “Stars” to lending backing vocals to “Whiteout” and other songs, Jenny was in the zone, totally consumed by the music she played as she moved unhurriedly but with purpose from the back to the front of the stage and around again.

In the most delightful surprise of the evening, Jenny took lead vocals for a cover of “I’m So Tired” by Fugazi as the last song of the set. Theresa and Emily left the stage completely for the song, leaving only Jenny and Stella to perform a stripped down but very powerful version of the number, which has been covered by Eddie Vedder.

The audience in the Black Cat collectively caught its breath and gasped at the pleasant surprise in unison. It’s common for touring artists to nod to DC with a Fugazi cover when performing in town, and a song other than “Waiting Room” was a welcome addition to this trend.

The consistently amazing thing about a Warpaint concert is how lost you get in the music but how utterly elated you feel when it’s all over. The band has suggested they may have a new album for us in 2020, so we should be so lucky as to experience it all again with Warpaint next year.

In a side note, Black Cat, please stop being so dark! We have no pictures because Black Cat is the darkest room in town. Brighten up, please?

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