By Jordan Cooper
For my first writing assignment as a music journalist for KTSW, I was asked to write a simple review of a song I heard while listening to KTSW 89.9. I chose “Shadows” by Warpaint. Since first being introduced to the all-female group in 2010, I have been a huge fan of the mood they are seemingly always able to cultivate in their music and at their shows. That year I saw them play an early set at Austin City Limits Music Festival, kicking off the Sunday of my first time attending the festival for all three days.
I knew if Warpaint could blow me away during a set that started at 11:45 AM on a warm September morning, that seeing them in a dark venue would be unreal. I was right, as I was lucky enough to see them at La Zona Rosa in Austin a few months later, and again on my 27th birthday in 2014 as they opened for another favorite band of mine, Queens of the Stone Age, in San Francisco.
Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to see Warpaint again live at Emo’s in Austin. It was a cool night, and after enjoying a drink with my wife and some friends at a nearby bar, we walked into the venue in between sets and got a great spot where we could see not only the band but also the lights and the crowd. It was a great way to not only watch the show, but also feel the energy and the mood Warpaint was painting throughout the set.
Although the band claims Los Angeles as their home base, two of the bands founding members, Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman, were childhood friends in Eugene, Oregon and the rainy Northwest and grunge scene from that part of the country obviously influenced the band and can be heard throughout their entire discography. The color of light most often used during the set was purple, which seemed appropriate to capture the moodiness, almost darkness to the experimental dream pop group from LA.
The ladies of Warpaint surprised us when they opened with “Bees” off their 2010 album The Fool They would continue to mix in classics throughout the night, including other songs off The Fool, such as “Undertow” and opening their encore with the crowd favorite “Composure.” They also played hits from their first EP, “Exquisite Corpse” which was self-released in 2008 and included Red Hot Chili Peppers members John Frusciante and Josh Klinghoffer on the album. I was beyond thrilled to hear “Krimson”, “Elephants” and “Beetles”.
For this show, there were touring for their newest album, Heads Up, which was released in September. They sprinkled in new songs such as “The Stall” and the drum heavy album opener “Whiteout.” Stella Mozgawa the Australian drummer for the group, was amazing as she kept the unique rhythms forcefully and distinctly, and with flair and attitude. They also incorporated their newest single, the dance driven “New Song,” that upon first listen I was hesitant about but after a couple tries realized it was one of the catchiest songs the group has ever put out (and is now stuck in my head as I write this).
Finally, they also included a lot of songs off the self-titled album “Warpaint,” which was released in 2014. This included another catchy song “Love is to Die,” along with “Hi,” and closing the night with “Intro” straight into “Keep It Healthy.” The constant dancing and energy that Jenny Lee Lindberg showcased while standing elevated behind Wayman and Kokal was contagious, as the crowd continually moved in rhythm and swayed to the bass and drums.
The elements of grunge, indie, and dream pop weaved in and out together seamlessly, and as the group walked off it felt as if the show had gone by in a blink. Once again, Warpaint had left me speechless and wanting more. The ambiance of the intimate venue, lights during the set, and mood of the crowd was once again all coordinated to perfection, and I already cannot wait to see Warpaint again the next time they stop through Austin. Here is to hoping they come back during SXSW, where they noted during their set is where they first started getting noticed.