An Abundantly Promising Start

April 1st, 2011

Warpaint – The Bowery Ballroom – March 31, 2011

Full Disclosure: After Thursday’s show at The Bowery Ballroom, I realized that I’ve seen Warpaint live on three separate occasions. The first time the all-female psychedelic-rock quartet from Los Angeles played opener at Music Hall of Williamsburg. At the time, the band only had one EP, Exquisite Corpse, a half dozen original songs to showcase. But, as their stellar reputation developed, a second gig looked imminent, an easily maneuvered headlining spot at Mercury Lounge, opening up Warpaint’s repertoire to a focused, supportive crowd. This, an abundantly promising start for any band, perhaps led Warpaint to last night’s spotlight, a position unfamiliar but well deserved for the group. Headlining The Bowery Ballroom, the women navigated uncharted territory, but did so in such a way as to encourage future performances.

From the start, Warpaint played what they knew, opening with the fist track from their debut album, The Fool. And, with distortion aiding the feel and texture of the guitars and bass, Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman, and Jenny Lee Lindberg proved through their instrumentation that they’re to be taken seriously, musically and sonically. Over the course of the set, they played highlights from their first EP and debut album such as “Stars” and “Undertow” respectively, but perhaps the most emotive moments came on “Elephants” and “Billie Holiday,” battle-worn tunes from Exquisite Corpse. On these songs, the rhythm section, easily the band’s strong suit shined most brightly and invited warmth to the band’s songs. In this new venue, playing to their strengths brought confidence to a group continuing to impress with each new hurdle jumped. —Jared Levy