Warpaint Sydney Opera House Sydney, AUS February 25, 2017
In Greek mythology, sirens were dangerous creatures who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.
Their song is fabled to be irresistibly sweet with equal measures of sadness and melancholy, which lapped both mind and soul in fatal lethargy, the forerunner of death and corruption, ultimately resulting in ruin.
Not saying that the harmonious intertwining of vocals which has become the trademark of American indie rock band Warpaint; comprised of Emily Kokal (vocals, guitar), Theresa Wayman (guitar, vocals) and Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass, backing vocals), and Stella Mozgawa (drums); is the modern day incarnation of Leucosia, Ligela, Aglaope and Molpe (despite their 2011 song “Elephants” having been featured in an independent horror film of the same title), but with them holding court at Sydney’s Opera House situated a stone throw from Sydney Harbour, we can be glad that the transatlantic ocean liner Queen Mary 2 had already securely dropped its anchor for the night before Warpaint hit the stage.
Warpaint’s songs are dreamy and free-flowing, some of which seem to have originated from jamming at soundchecks, without lacking structure, employing more than standard, clichéd rock staples and featuring drum machines and electronica to enhance the ambience.
Transitioning from plaintive moods, floating on streams of consciousness (or rather drifting in and out of consciousness) passages into harmonic psychedelic rock songs is the approach that led to Warpaint being labeled as “art rock” with nebulous prog-rock influences.
Sounds like a heady, borderline pretentious and boring mélange?
Experiencing them in a live environment is the diametric opposite.
Devoid of ceremony and pomp, the quartet jumps right in medias res, commencing their performance with total conviction and conjuring a sensual vibe that plants the willing audience in the palm of their hands.
The fact that Warpaint as a unit has honed its craft as a jam band enables them to effortlessly calibrate their harmonies, backed by a solid foundation rooted in the ridiculously tight drum skills of Stella Mozgowa, who celebrated her birthday and centers the band when things run danger of getting too wafty.
Warpaint live goes off like clockwork, with each cog reacting and corresponding with its counterparts and thereby creating a coherent whole – an evocative unit that inspires an atmosphere of swaying, ethereal awe yet somehow simultaneously inspires dance moves and the occasional first pump.
Sydney Opera house proved to be an effective venue for the hypnotic, spaced out atmosphere Warpaint created, the ebbs and flows of which were enhanced by a nuanced yet subtle light show orchestrated courtesy of the in-house illumination wizards.
Photos by KAVV