Tonight I find myself in a strange kind of gig limbo. Originally planning to attend Wolf Alice at Dingwalls in Camden, I was monumentally swayed into buying a ticket to see Warpaint on the basis that Jarvis Cocker was DJing before and that my friend would be attending in a pumpkin costume. Thank God I said yes.
The first time I went to Reading in 2011, Warpaint played on the Sunday but due to people trying to set fire to tents and other such ‘banter’ I missed their set. Over three years later, I am proud to say that ‘The Paint’ came, saw and bloody well conquered.
I find the word multi instrumentalist a bit hard to swallow the majority of the time, not because I want to belittle people’s talent (much) but because more often than not it merely means a lead singer will hit some power chords on a synth pad. Technically, Martina Topley Bird is not a multi instrumentalist, but armed only with a loop pedal, a guitar, a keyboard, an iPhone and her mind blowing beatboxing, every note played or sang melted together which created not only some beautiful soulful homages to lovers, but a spectacle that had many in the crowd open mouthed with awe.
PINS are good – really good. In fact they’re so good that they make Savages look a teensy bit unenthusiastic and calm. Drummer Sophie Galpin rages behind her kit. People with passion for the music they play are always deserving of admiration and applause so kudos PINS. They’re all girls, all look like people in bands (think Karen O and Alice Glass) and they came in all guns blazing, converting not only myself but the entire crowd into angsty punk warriors ready to take on the world.
All angst; however, is lost the second Warpaint emerge from the shadows and take to the stage for what atmospherically feels like a welcome home gig for a band that certainly mean something very different yet equally important to each crowd member.
A new stage set up, new songs and a new found swagger are the most noticeable changes for a band that have comfortably sat in high regard for people of all ages for a number of years now. Emily Kokal croons softer, Theresa Wayman slinks comfortably, Stella Mozgawa is tentatively rhythmic and as ever Jenny Lee Lindberg plays the gig of her life as she weaves her bass in all manner of shapes and styles.
Old classics like ‘Undertow’, ‘Elephants’ and ‘Billy Holiday’ are received with thunderous applause and even in comparison to recorded versions, have never sounded clearer or tighter. The newly re-birthed Warpaint know their songs are good yet never get cocky, choosing instead to play with sombre assurance.
The newly unleashed ‘Love Is To Die’ has already been memorised by everyone in the room and as the first taste of what is to come from the new album, could not have set a better precedent. It’s spine tingling stuff, so much so it casts a trance over the crowd.
Warpaint set the bar incredibly high when they released The Fool and Exquisite Corpse but after tonight it seems a pretty strong bet that the new record will not only equal that bar, but soar highly above it.
Words: Rachael Scarsbrook