Warpaint: Manchester – Live ReviewWarpaint

Manchester Academy 1

29th Oct 2013

With their twilight psych tinged darkness, deceptive simplicity, exquisite melodies, those velvet harmonies, dark melancholic atmospherics and stripped down post punk flavoured musicianship, Warpaint are a stunning band.

They slot into that mystical world of the proto gothic post punk of the late seventies but with their own very modern take on the form. In their slipping and sliding mix of spectral sound I can feel the Cure of Faith or A Forest or the sparse atmosphere of the fabulous Young Marble Giants, there is even a hint of Bauhaus in the bass and the guitar’s determination not to do the obvious thing- painting sound instead off riffing and a touch of Radiohead in the brave new world approach to music making as well as underground icons like Blonde Redhead and the neu art rock cool of decades past.

Add to this that some of the band are from Eugene and that town’s left field psych backdrop floats into the mix adding to the possibilities of their mesmerising sound.

It’s that mix between post punk’s deconstruction of rock’s huffing and puffing into new vistas and that early experimentation of the attractive bedsit melancholia of the so called early Goth scene- a real walk on the dark side that frames this music.

This is a music you can shut your eyes and float away in.

It has a rare and powerful beauty and a great level of musicianship, with our current favourite rhythm section with drummer, Stella Mozgawa- whose fractured beats move from post punk fragments to dubstep with ease and are endlessly inventive and jagged and never sit back into a lazy groove- she is so perfect for the band that its hard to believe that  she was the last to join after they had gone through many other drummers since their inception in LA in 2004. Jenny Lee Lindberg is a great bass player, with her deep neo dub tone propelled through a series of great riffs and playing and constantly surprising paths making her a real pleasure to listen to.

The band has a long and fascinating history as it attempted to find its sound building around the communal mind core of Jenny Lee Lindberg, Theresa Wayman and Emily KokalIt. It was Emily’s then boyfriend the Chili Pepper guitar player John Frusciante who produced them and finally helped get them attention and give him a chance to explore the gentler, neo post punk side of his character, away from the alpha male ooomph of his then day-job band.

The Chili Pepper connection continued with Lindberg’s then boyfriend Josh Klinghoffer depping on the drums as the band found their sound but then  with a decision to explore the power of four women in the band this was discontinued and he left the line up but was still involved as well as replacing Frusciante in the Chili Peppers as the guitar player.

None of these connections give you any clue to the way the band sound and their perfect, pristine and intoxicating blur of perfection. The Chili Peppers were conduits but the talent was already there and their closeness and merging of voices on record and on stage is the key.

They take the stage and wander into their music, sounding like they are almost jamming. Dressed down in post grunge duds they have that casual thrift store cool that belies the aching, heavenly reach of their songs. There is something about the way the three vocals switch between each-other, with no-one taking lead all the time that adds to their mystery. The focus shifts and so do the harmonies and the voices are interchangeable but  the way the voices blur is enthralling and creates the glacial beauty of the songs.

There is plenty of new songs in the set readying the new album and the follow up to 2010’s The Fool- on first hearing stylistically there are no big changes to the sound which is a cool thing- just a continuation and an exploration of the musical themes they have already set out- with the fluid bass, clipped guitars and haunting occasional keyboard washes hooked with those stunning drum rhythms and psych tinged harmonies to create a new kind of West Coast sound that already sounds timeless with its roots deep back into the great British post punk experimenters who deconstructed rock and created an endless template to be an inspiration in the most unlikely of places. Combining this sense of adventure with the sense of adventure of California psychedelic tinged ghost pop.

Warpaint are a perfect band , full of intuition and atmosphere and great melodies- it’s a hypnotic pleasure being suspended in their world and I just want to go back there.

We miss support band PINS which is a real pain as they are one of the best new bands on the circuit and their hometown show would have been a real celebration of their well received debut album. Gasping for air we arrive as the stage is being set up for Warpaint- a beautifully minimalist stage set of amps, two keyboards and drums- a perfect stripped down  just equipment set up that reflects the beautiful simplicity of their music and that aforementioned blissful world  to get lost in.

A perfect bill…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Were we at the same gig? I thought Warpaint were having a off night,there seemed a lack of any effort in the stage presentation and the new songs also lacked something..they were boring and unfocused for most of the gig,and only after coming on for a undeserved encore did the music kick in to anything meaningful..Warpaint you let Manchester down.


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