Warpaint @ Birmingham HMV Institute

Seriously, forget anything that Britain has thrown at you over the last few months, because it’s light years behind what’s coming our way from over the pond.

Warpaint, one of the American indie bands who have really made a name for themselves since their debut EP release Exquisite Corpse back in 2008, showed their appeal hadn’t waned, selling out of the ‘Library Room’ in Birmingham’s massive HMV Institute.

Lead singer Emily Kokal asked if the crowd were “ready for a rock and roll show.” The answer was obvious.

The dynamic of the band is key, with the rhythm section (consisting of Jenny Lee Lindberg on bass and Stella Mozgawa on drums) sticking close together, sharing looks of mischief and giggles that you can only genuinely achieve with your best friend. Then on opposite sides of the stage lies the melody, the beauty, the voice. Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman share both guitar parts and vocals, allowing for both perfect harmonies and intriguing improvisation.

Playing songs from their EP and last year’s album The Fool, the band looked set on offering a darker, grungier and downright meaner take on their recorded efforts. Their ability to spiral off into psychedelic jams, whilst at the same time still sticking to a song’s original formula, ensured the crowd were regularly whipped up to into a dreamlike frenzy.

Singles Undertow and Composure received the biggest responses. Beetles got everyone dancing, whilst opening song Set Your Arms Down silenced everyone. Despite only one EP and one album, Warpaint already have a broad range of songs to choose from, and The HMV Institute was even treated to a couple of previews of new songs.

The band didn’t seem the same camaraderie on stage as when I saw them in February, but to be fair they’ve had a busy tour, and although there weren’t as many laughs and jokes on stage they made up for that with their incredible musicianship and passion.

Andrew Skinner

Theresa Wayman

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