It's an impressive feat to sell out Brooklyn Bowl, as it's one of the larger venues in Brooklyn, so that's a pretty great testament to how popular a band is. Warpaint is blowing up big time, and I want to say this is the 4th show they’ve sold out in New York, but I’m really starting to lose track. The even greater thing about them is that they're popular because they actually are that good.
The opener for this Wednesday night show was Family Band, who I saw last at Mercury Lounge opening for Asobi Seksu. They were much more creepy than I remembered, but I mean that in a good way. Maybe it had something to do with the lighting that made them look like ghosts around a campfire, but they also looked much more comfortable on stage. They jammed out more, and looked like they were enjoying themselves; successfully setting the scene for a night of perfect spooky combinations. Their set was full of harsh guitar jangs balanced with understated legato vocals. At one point guitarist Jon Ollsin went to the side of the stage to yell some lyrics in tandem with singer Kim Krans, then came back in time to strum the first chords of the song. “Its nice to be in brooklyn – we’re just passin’ through, really,” Ollsin offered. They ended with a short and interesting percussive number, with each member grabbing drumsticks, a tambourine, or just joining in on vocals. The result was something like a tribal chant. At this rate, I’m even more inclined to follow their music closer.
Sydney, Australia’s PVT (formerly known as Pivot)’s set turned out to be strangely amusing. The three members were extremely intense, already on some altered reality level. They were brought back down for a moment when they completely lost power on stage during their second song. The man on synth and beats immediately stood back and put his hands up when his laptop screen went blank, but they all rolled with it and were able to start again a minute later. The singer multi-tasked, going from bass to guitar to keys and back again; not necessarily in the same order. Due to the intensity and complexity of the sounds (and also the stark mood) they were pulling off, the lyrics were minimal. The beats were original and creative, with the sampler and live drummer working in synchronicity, while the guitar and bass was heavily affected so it was hard to always tell what sounds were coming from where. The drummer was still the ultimate backbone, leading the tempo variations. The main source of my amusement was the singer’s theatrical movements and some questionable lyrics, but every member was clearly feeling what they were putting out. All the while, Brooklyn Bowl was showing videos of rollercoasters in the back of the room.
After PVT’s set I turned around to face a sea of people. Brooklyn Bowl had clearly reached it’s sold out capacity, and I realized that it would be an extremely challenging task to get out even if I wanted to at this point. The stage hands were placing bulbous lights strategicly around the stage, with a black light here and there, and Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa came on stage in her denim jumpsuit to sound check. The house music was droning on and on for what started to feel like too long, and as soon as all the ladies of Warpaint came down the steps in the back the crowd started screaming.
Warpaint brought their haunting hypnotics that they’re known for from the get-go, beginning with “Set Your Arms Down.” Emily Kokal (vocals/guitar), Theresa Wayman (vocals/guitar), and Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass/vocals) all danced and swayed while being perfectly in tune with each other. It was like they were all in on an inside joke together on stage that no one else knew, but they were smiling at each other and having fun. Lindberg especially was really playful, fiercely swaying and dipping while playing her bass, and dancing when she wasn’t. Kokal at times would put down her guitar, grab the microphone off the stand and dance and jump around with a playful attitude. Half the time they were all facing each other and playing for themselves, seeming to not even worry about what the crowd thought. Not that they had to - people in the crowd were singing along almost the whole time.
The majority of the set was off of their full length, The Fool, but the most popular songs were the ones saved till last from the Exquisite Corpse EP. Singles “Undertow” and “Shadows” got large responses, as well as the slower “Billie Holiday” with its haunting rendition of “My Guy” thrown in. The last song of the set, “Beetles” had fans yelling out the lyrics the loudest. The encore was like a crazy jam session with apparent math rock and classic rock elements, providing the musical climax of their slow and sexy drip.
Warpaint has an insanely extensive tour covering the majority of the U.S. and Europe until the end of August. Many of these dates are with PVT as well. You can stream The Fool in it’s entirety on Warpaint’s website, and stream and download PVT on their website and Facebook.