California Blues

A needle in a steel wool haystack.

Painting The Town Red and Brooding

Arriving unfashionably late to a packed show at The Troubadour, hoping to at least hear the comforting 60s psychadelic rockabilly of the Magic Wands, I learn they’re not playing tonight. I’ll find out later they backed out because they had toured too much in the past year and a half. Thankfully, I arrive just in time to see warpaint’s set. Knowing School of Seven Bells headlines, I do my best to prepare for dreampop/shoegaze, as it tends not to be my favourite. No one should have to prepare for warpaint: the fog machine in overdrive should suffice.

Jenny Lee Lindberg’s warm bass driven melody wraps you in a comforting brood, yet the vocals still drive the song. Soon enough, Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman are dueting from each side of the stage while Lindberg effortlessly sways in rhythm to her strumming bass and Michael Quinn’s drums. Every review of these women tries to come up with a new catch-phrase genre, from “post-rock ethereality” to “an organic experience” “the breath of fresh air that will suffocate you.” Actually, those are all really good descriptions, so let me add mine to the list: with the dueling, harmonizing guitarist/singers and the melodic thumping coming from a amplified bass, warpaint feels like a spider crawling up you body as you sleep–yes, that awesomely creeping feeling is what warpaint evokes.

They thank the School of Seven Bells and the packed audience yells back, “We’re here for you!” I don’t often congratulate the Angelino (maybe I should start, been here long enough), but when it comes to local music, they’re damned good at shifting through the refuse to find the colour. Lindberg takes the starting vocals on the next track, fully showcasing the entire band’s range of talent. The second to last song “Billie Holiday” uses all three frontwomen in an apparent round as their voices and strings bring forth a heart-felt melody which can’t help but sound like the echo of a 50s love song playing over a post-apocalyptic PA system. A dreamy elegantly bleak sound which fills you full of emotion and occasionally forces it all out with very danceable riffs. For warpaint’s final song, they surprise by switching up the instruments: Quinn comes out from behind the drums with a cello while Wayman sets up behind the drums. The one good thing about the intimate size of the Troubadour, the mixing for keys and cellos isn’t as important as it is in massive venues. First thing done after warpaint leaves the stage to raucous cheers? Go buy their EP Exquisite Corpse. These six tracks might not showcase their full talent, but it definitely captures their potential and more.

School of Seven Bells takes the stage after an elaborate tech set up; lots of bells and whistles will be involved. They come out kicking massive bass and flashing a very interesting projector show: looked a bit like footage from Joshua Tree put into a panorama program and made to fish-eye around the stage. It alternated through many different embodiments as they continued to play a type of shoegaze arena rock. Benjamin Curtis stands behind keys and an insane amount of pedals for his guitar and throws out an eerie form of distortion that reminds one more of arena rock than dreampop, while the Deheza twins grove to their harmonious shoegaze sound. It works and pushes out an entertaining sound, but their live show focuses entirely on the show, almost making them a Glam Dreampop band. Overall the sisters play stiffly while Curtis envelopes himself in his many many pedals, knobs, buttons and tasks so that he doesn’t appear to be performing, just playing intensely.

5 October

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16 October 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the lovely review. I’ve been following this band since thy started out in 2007, all the way from Europe, though fortunately I got the chance to see them live last June when I was in LA, so amazing.

    Comment by Laura | 24 October 2009 | Reply


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