A Band on the Rise

June 15th, 2010

Warpaint – Mercury Lounge – June 14, 2010

(Photo: Jared Levy)

(Photo: Jared Levy)

Back in early March, four relatively unknown women opened for Akron/Family at Music Hall of Williamsburg. At the time, bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg and drummer Stella Mozgawa wore matching pajamas while guitarist-singers Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman dressed like Lilith Fair attendees. However, as these ladies of Warpaint made abundantly clear, music is not a reflection of appearance. Their delicate and innocent looks acted only as a siren song, luring unsuspecting listeners to unanticipated sounds. The difference between this group and the dangerous mythological creatures is that after their opening performance, filled with spacey jams and fierce drumming, the audience met a blissful rather than tragic end.

Last night Warpaint returned to New York City for a packed early show at Mercury Lounge. Even before the first chords sounded, the buzz was palpable. The crowd consisted of numerous camera-toting media types in addition to Chris Keating from Yeasayer and Chris Chu from the Morning Benders (who play a free show at The Beach at Governors Island on Saturday). And although Warpaint’s only release is their debut EP, Exquisite Corpse, Rolling Stone recently listed them as an essential set at last week’s Bonnaroo.

Building on the audience’s excitement, Warpaint quickly went from sound check to their set, with Wayman asking for the house music to be cut midsong. No one protested as they opened with a new track that led into Exquisite Corpse’s serene opener, “Stars.” Since their last performance, the band members have each seemed to develop as individual contributors and as part of the group. Mozgawa’s drumming continues to be an unstoppable force and this time around she traded instruments with Kokal for an equally powerful performance on guitar. Additionally, Lindberg’s steady bass and affable attitude bring levity to Wayman’s and Kokal’s serious yet respectable stoicism. The only issue with Warpaint is balance, but as they continue to tour, expect their sound to sharpen and their anonymity to fade. —Jared Levy