Early in their recent set at DC’s Capital Turnaround, Warpaint performed a tranquil song called “Champion,” which hails from their new album Radiate Like This. Guitarist Theresa Wayman took lead vocals, and the band unspooled the song’s weave over a hushed audience.
The song and the show were a breath of fresh air, frankly, and it was very good to see Warpaint back on tour.
At Capital Turnaround on July 22, the four women of Warpaint favored their new album, drawing six of the 16 songs in their set from it. The reassuring foundation laid by songs like “Champion” gave each of the four room to be themselves while also contributing to the whole.
Around the concert’s one third mark, Warpaint performed the jaunty new cut “Hips,” and guitarist Emily Kokal led on vocals. “Hips” played like a jazzy arrangement of beat poetry, but it drew from the same place of confidence and knowledge as “Champion” — both lyrically and professionally. “Hips” was still quite psychedelic, mind you, but the song called for a little more shake than the sway the crowd gave to “Champion.”
Warpaint were ready to perform, and the musicians worked their way around their gear and stage as the seasoned players they are. Yet, there also was a youthful enthusiasm bursting from within them; you could tell they were overjoyed to be performing again after pandemic lockdowns. The bustling audience soaked up their communicable enthusiasm.
Watch the official music video for “Champion” by Warpaint on YouTube:
Throughout the show, Warpaint continued to charm with the new material. Late in the set, Emily sang “Stevie,” an earnest love song that sounded as if it could serve as the quiet number on a disco album. The song made you feel as if you were slow dancing under resplendent nightclub lights in step with the truly beautiful and hypnotic drumming of Stella Mozgawa. Emily weaved along a track of stage, dancing barefoot throughout with a sly smile and look of mischief in her eyes.
In the encore, Warpaint harmonize nicely for the cheeky “Send Nudes.” The downtempo-leaning number entreated an absent lover to “send a couple nudes, baby,” and its playfulness made it a happy number on which to end the show.
Of course, Warpaint also revisited their three previous studio albums and their well-loved debut EP, Exquisite Corpse, along the way. Audiences always cheer for the band’s self-titled sophomore album, and Friday night’s performance of “Love Is to Die” generated honest excitement among those of us dancing in the aisles. Theresa’s lead vocal was as always incredibly affecting during that song, it certainly augmented her sense of mystery, and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg shined during the refrain with a bassline that is both thrilling and subtle.
The quiet and sincere bassist was a powerful presence throughout the show, stationed steadfastly next to Stella on stage right. She would lose herself in the music and groove along to its rhythms, woman and bass as one, and you get the sense that this is simply how she lives — authentically and in the moment.
Watch Warpaint perform “Love Is to Die” live for KEXP in 2014 on YouTube:
By the way, Jenny Lee records solo as jennylee, and she’s produced two very good albums of post-punk, the latest of which — Heart Tax — was on sale as a vinyl record at the merch booth. We would really love to see some of the jennylee solo material live, one day, however! In the meantime, Capital Turnaround very much enjoyed Jenny’s lead vocal on Warpaint’s cover of “I’m So Tired” by Fugazi. Warpaint’s welcome tribute to DC rock royalty came as no surprise in the encore as the band covered it in their last visit here when performing at Black Cat in 2019.
DC loves you, Warpaint! Please return soon.
Here are some pictures of Warpaint performing at Capital Turnaround in DC on July 22, 2022. All photos copyright Parklife DC.