Warpaint Mesmerize with Intricacy at Union Transfer

When the doors open for Warpaint’s Thursday night show at Union Transfer, there’s a faint yet audible hum of “Love Is To Die,” a single from Warpaint’s recent self-titled album. Just minutes before their opener was slated to take the stage, the four mystic women of Warpaint were still practicing. But if the intricate, precise, and mesmerizing performance that they were soon to put on is any indication, these last-second jams don’t seem to be necessary.

Guy Blakeslee

Guy Blakeslee

As Guy Blakeslee walks on stage, sounds of rain drops echo out from his MacBook and across the venue. He performs a set of psychedelic ambient music, which he enhances with a series of innovative gimmicks– when holding a long vocal, he hits his chest to create a natural reverberation. Since he only has his laptop and a guitar on stage with him, Blakeslee often jingles bangles on his wrist to create percussion. These quirky techniques permeate his set– towards the end of his set, he plays a solo while spinning in circles at the center of the stage. To mirror the way he began his performance, Guy Blakeslee ends with “City in the Rain,” which he sings from atop an amp.

Amidst a buzz of anticipation, Warpaint glides cooly on stage to “Intro,” the first song on their new album. Without hesitation, they transition seamlessly into “Keep it Healthy.” Jenny Lee Lindberg closes her eyes and sways back and forth as she plucks the bass line– though a crowd of fans watch her in admiration, she is lost in her own world. She plays a white Rickenbacker with “Minor Threat” written in black sharpie across the back, and she wears a powder blue sweatshirt featuring an Instagram screenshot of her and her boyfriend.

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Jenny Lee Lindberg

Emerging from spectrum of flashing pastel-colored lights and smoke is Stella Mozgawa, spunky yet angelic, slaying the audience with a superhuman drum solo to finish off a bold rendition of “Undertow.” Though she has just completely stunned the crowd and stolen the show with her incredible drumming talent, all Mozgawa can do is giggle and look over at Lindberg, who giggles in return. Though underrated, Stella Mozgawa might just be one of the best drummers in music right now.

That’s part of Warpaint’s allure– without effort, they can be both wicked and innocent, or intimidating and endearing. Though they are constantly together in tour buses and planes, traveling the world and recording songs, it’s not hard to see that before the music, Warpaint is just a group of four women who love to spend time together.

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Warpaint

Warpaint’s songs tend to center around a repeated riff, which is continually amended and distorted into intricate instrumentals– the build-up feels as though the song is uncovering a secret and reeling in the crowd with its urgency. The four members of Warpaint each sing, and the intersection and harmony of their soft, melodic vocals is hypnotizing and ambient.

Before playing “Bees,” a psychedelic jam from The Fool, guitarist Theresa Wayman stops to wish one of Warpaint’s tech crew members a happy birthday. “We’re so intensely excited about Jordan’s birthday,” Wayman says. “Also, John Lennon…” she adds as an afterthought.

Theresa Wayman

Theresa Wayman

Though Warpaint’s music tends to be more understated and subtle than energetic, a newer song from Warpaint, “Disco//very,” serves as a climax in the set. From Mozgawa’s rapid drumming to Wayman and Kokal’s dueling, chant-like vocals, the song emits a mysterious energy. Closing the set before the encore are “Burgundy” and “Krimson,” the two last songs off of Warpaint’s 2008 EP Exquisite Corpse. When performed live, the songs are morphed together into what’s almost a medley– the reinterpretation of older material is undeniably interesting.

In a two-song encore, Warpaint plays “Biggy,” the second single off of their self-titled album, and “Elephants,” from Exquisite Corpse. “

Stella Mozgawa celebrates a show well-done

Stella Mozgawa celebrates a show well-done

Elephants” concludes the show with Warpaint’s signature intense breakdown: a mind-blowing layering of Emily and Theresa’s vocals and Stella’s drumming, complemented by Jenny Lee’s sturdy and groovy bass.

If Warpaint isn’t drifting in and out of your conscience, they should be– they’re one of the most talented up-and-coming bands around.

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Photos by Amanda Silberling

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