Warpaint at Fitzgerald's, 4/24/2014
Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Warpaint, James Supercave Fitzgerald's April 24, 2014
It's not every day that a touring band can grace the stage with familiarity of a local act, but Warpaint found a way to make themselves at home at Fitzgerald's on Thursday evening.
Though they've already spent most of the year touring in support of new album Warpaint, which included a three-day stint in Austin supporting The National at Austin City Limits' Moody Theatre, as well as two weekends of Coachella performances, Warpaint brought more than enough energy with them.
But first, five-piece supporting act James Supercave brought in a heavy dose David Bowie, the experimentation of The Beatles circa Yellow Submarine and a hint of Elton John, to go with inspiration from modern acts like Radiohead, Coconut Records and Of Montreal. It might sound a bit scattered, but what resulted was some of the most honest, moving experimental pop-infused rock I've heard in quite some time.
While music publications, labels, and fans alike are searching for the next big "it" genre, James Supercave has found a way to avoid being pegged as just another hype band. That kind of talent that can't be taught and has no formula. And lucky Warpaint didn't request another opener, too -- if anyone had performed before James Supercave, they would have been forgotten about anyway
Instead, the show was well-paced, and Warpaint gave the crowd long enough to get settled before they took the stage around 10:20 p.m. The quartet opened up with "Hi," sounding a bit reserved as they warmed up to a crowd that was already hooked on their every note. However, things didn't stay that way for long as they moved seamlessly into "Composure" and "Bees," suddenly playing full speed ahead, working tirelessly for the packed house.
In a live setting, Warpaint is known for their gentle allure. At times, however, member Emily Kokal could be seen staring down the crowd with such intensity that it brought a certain edge to the tracks. But despite the band's concentration, their passion found its way to the surface with ease. As they moved into "Biggy," it was clear that they're not afraid to challenge and push one another, and yet it never felt forced. Perhaps that's why Warpaint is so fun to listen to, but even more fun to watch in person.
Review continues on the next page.
Sure, every artist is going to have a different experience every night, but Warpaint aren't just playing music to fill an empty room. Instead, they create an atmosphere with their music that encompasses everything in their presence. Even on slower tracks, the band plays with such conviction and intensity that it's hard to ignore the magic they're building, tailored specifically to the audience in front of them.
And really, it works. Besides the handful of people glued to glowing cell phones, the crowd was fixated on every movement and note coming from the stage, which didn't go unnoticed.
"You guys are hot," said Kokal. "We came from a hot place, and y'all are even sexier."
And with that, the group launched into "Love Is to Die," off of their recent self-titled release, Warpaint. Arguably, their new album features the group's best work to date, but it was an entirely different experience to watch the album stretch its legs onstage, allowing each member to shine in her own way.
Of course, the crowd seemed to love drummer Stella Mozgawa, because more than one fan could be heard shouting her name in between songs. Perhaps it was due to her extended outro for "Undertow," which gave the crowd its first glimpse of the "jam band" reputation that surrounds Warpaint. But even though the group performed flawless versions of their songs to a packed house, the show never felt anything other than intimate. It certainly didn't hurt that Theresa Wayman's voice is soothing, while Jenny Lee Lindberg's dance moves got the crowd moving.
After "Keep It Healthy" and "Disco//very," the group took a short break that elicited a demand for their return that was so loud, friends of the band could be seen from the side of the stage covering their ears. And though they left after a dance tune, the women returned with one of their most subdued tracks, "Billie Holiday," before jumping into "Feelin' Alright."
That said, what was most noticeable about Warpaint's performance Thursday was how the group has allowed their older material to evolve in the midst of their most recent set of songs, which allowed the evening to unfold with a natural ease that never felt distracted. But it wouldn't be a Warpaint show without "Elephants" ending in an impromptu jam session that fed off of the crowd's energy and didn't end until every member of the band, as well as the crowd, felt entirely satisfied with their goodbye.
Review continues on the next page.
Personal Bias: I've loved Warpaint since I first saw them perform live at Mango's when it was owned by Pegstar.
The Crowd: An eclectic mix. There were a lot of girls who looked like they'd followed the band from Coachella, a lot of clean-cut guys with long hair and dreads, and a shitload of people smoking pot.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Has there ever been a mosh pit at a Warpaint show? I think I'm going to start one."
Random Notebook Dump: Theresa Wayman is way too hot for James Van Der Beek, anyways.
Hi Composure Bees Biggy Love is to Die Undertow No Way Out Keep It Healthy Disco//very
Billie Holiday Feelin' Alright Elephants
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS