LA quartet Warpaint came out once again to cast their melodious spell at the Observatory Saturday night before their upcoming European tour later this month. It's been a while since they've played in Orange County, unless you count their show last October at The Glass House. Even members Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman, while feeding the audience with banter in between songs, expressed their joy at returning to OC. "Sahnta Annaaa," Kokal's and Wayman's pronunciation simply rolled off their tongues. "We always love playing here."
Buzz band no more, the group have toured extensively in the last few months honoring the release of their third album Warpaint. Keeping up with their free-flowing, experimental style of psych-rock, Warpaint retains their ethereal melodic harmonies but adds new instrumental flourishes in the mix, including piano synthesizers and drum machines. The resulting album stems on a slightly divergent path away from their previous songs, especially on the song "Disco/Very," that has a danceable beat, yet their hypnotic vocals and psychedelic grooves still maintain a familiar vibe for fans.
After a rousing set of moody indie rock jams by singer-songwriter Patrick Park, Warpaint took the stage while a large banner of the Warpaint album cover hung in the background. They wasted no time getting the audience riled up as they immediately started into a long instrumental intro of "Keep It Healthy." The cool purple and blue lighting and surrounding fog onstage effectively established the mood, and an audience member even threw giant bursts of glitter confetti in the air. The glitter actually added a welcome touch of chaos, as the group started in on their more frenetic, up-tempo songs "Bees," "Hi," and "Composure."
Their transition into "Undertow" was met with uproarious aplomb from the audience. Wayman switched to guitar for this track, extending it with her gangly guitar shredding. Wayman and Kokal both switched in and out of instruments for each song, while bassist Jenny Lindberg grooved along in the middle. All three danced around and whipped their hair in different directions; in fact, there was so much amazing hair action and dancing from everyone.
The crowd was completely feeling the energy imparted by the group, so Kokal's instruction to dance along to "Disco/Very," seemed unnecessary. Right after they closed their set with "Beetles," a lengthy indie tune from their first EP Exquisite Corpse that features their early heavier psychedelic sounds. Kokal returned after five minutes to do a solo rendition of "Baby," and at one point switched the lyrics to Patti Smith's "Because The Night." The band reunited to play a brand new song "No Way Out" and classic "Burgundy." They absolutely spoiled the audience with their elongated version of "Burgundy," probably because neither artists or audience wanted the evening to end. The glitter-bombing audience member threw more and more glitter in the air in the spirit of good cheer.
Critical bias: it's no surprise that this show was so good, as Warpaint's members are all accomplished musicians who at this point in their careers are on each other's wavelength, so when one breaks into a random solo the others can jam accordingly.
The Crowd: Great outfit inspos on the girls, while there was an even ratio of men to women. Nice to see that guys can enjoy an all-female band.
Overheard in the Crowd: An older 40-something gentlemen unsuccessfully tried to pick up a younger woman at the bar. "Sorry I'm a dork. I'll just go drink alone over there then."
Random Notebook Dump: I lost my notebook midway through the show, so the set list below might not be 100% correct. I wrote down what I could remember on a napkin at a fast food joint right after the show.
Keep It Healthy
Love is to Die
No Way Out