Just under an hour in the company of Warpaint is enough for State to go from fairly impressed with their music to being a fully-fledged convert. Last year’s album The Fool may have been a slow-burning piece of work, but even as the smouldering hooks sunk their claws in, the record didn’t quite hold your attention the whole way through. Those songs were recorded shortly after drummer Stella Mozgawa joined the band, and it’s evident that months of solid touring have shaped them into different beasts: more alive and fully-realised than the sometimes-murky production on the album allowed for.
The interplay between the four musicians is fascinating and they seem self-absorbed in the best possible sense, swaying to the snaking, simmering grooves of ‘Set Your Arms Down’. Throughout the set, Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman alternate hypnotic vocals, sinuous guitar lines and the odd bout of frenzied riffing, with the fluid rhythm section of Mozgawa and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg anchoring the songs perfectly (at one stage Lindberg pulls the curtain at the back of the stage behind her, leaving enough room to see her locking into a groove with the drummer).The sound in Roisin Dubh is crystal-clear, throwing the band’s technical prowess and exquisite guitar tones into sharp relief: Lindberg’s basslines, for example, provide the entrancing heartbeat of ‘Bees’, darkly atmospheric and danceable at the same time.
An excellent run-through of ‘Composure’ demonstrates Warpaint’s telepathic understanding: pulling off the tough trick of sounding somewhat chaotic and abandoned despite its intricate rhythms and deft twists, it segues into a mesmerising ‘Undertow’ – their finest song, it pulls together all the threads that make up their sound with an expression of controlled intensity. The cinematic, gripping ‘Elephants’ leaves the crowd wanting more, but with the band on a tight travelling schedule there’s no room for an encore. No matter: after an entrancing, absorbing set it’s unlikely anyone went home unhappy.
Photos by Kieran Frost.