Austin Psych Fest Live: Warpaint

The gals are back in town

Warpaint, 4.26.13
Warpaint, 4.26.13
photo by Shelley Hiam

After 2010’s debut full-length, The Fool, Los Angeles fourpiece Warpaint toured buoyed by the kind of hype that only an all-female lineup can generate, but deservedly so. The album’s quiet elegance made Warpaint into aural specters, bewitching crowds with understatement.

That was three years ago, and it’s been quiet ever since.

Just as fears of a fizzled buzz band began creeping in, Warpaint’s re-emerged to prove it was nothing of the sort. There was none of that hazy minimalism in Friday night’s Psych Fest mainstage set. Emily Kokal announced they would “keep it casual,” but those were the only ground rules.

Warpaint then sicced “Bees” on us, one of the easily revved compositions from Fool, its clunk at times brushing industrialism. The band was off and running. Clean, powerful, and, as promised, casual, the Warpaint ladies are now seasoned tour vets that play to their strengths. With grace.

When bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg’s feed began to crackle and eventually completely disappear (the same technical problem heard in the Raveonettes’ set later), Kokal joked with sound engineers as cheers erupted when the bass finally thumped back. Exquisite Corpse EP rarity, “Krimson” changed tempo with a record-scratch abruptness, then rocked along with the quiet furor of a jam band.

Even then, it was tête-à-tête closer “Baby” that stood out as the clear highlight. As the wind blew man-made fog behind the purple stage now solely inhabited by Kokal, it wasn’t stillness that made an impression, but power.

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