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Review: Warpaint at London's KOKO

Transcendent, majestic, sublime, and other adjectives. Basically, we loved Warpaint...


It’s been a great week for KOKO. Fresh off the (platform) heels of Prince’s knockout surprise gig at the legendary Camden venue, LA’s prettiest indie poster girls Warpaint rocked up on a cold February evening to deliver a set of their revered spook-pop to a packed house of adoring fans. And we were lucky enough to bear witness.

Having not done a “proper” tour on our shores in sometime, and with a second eponymous LP released a little over a month ago, anticipation was high. And if KOKO’s crowd was anything to go by, their fan base is one of up-most devotion – a mix of disenchanted, pretty young things and older worldly types welcomed the four beauties onto the stage with rapturous applause and expectation.

With a setlist spanning new and old material, drawing from 2009’s breakthrough The Fool, Warpaint served up a reserved and understated presence, with an intimacy more befitting of a rehearsal than a sold out high-profile show.

The intricacy of Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman’s vocals and guitar playing is nothing short of sublime – a distinctly fragile and feminine affair that, when supported by the groove of Jenny Lee Lindberg’s powerhouse bass and the atmospheric rhythm that is Stella Mozgawa’s percussion, amounts to a unique brand of dark and sensual indie-pop that has led to Warpaint’s widespread adoration.

Love is To Die, the first single from their second album, proved its stature as a new classic within he canon, with it’s dissonant grooves and melancholic melody enticing the crowd into a bittersweet waltz. Fan favourite Billie Holiday proved to be another standout, with its hypnotic refrain entrancing the crowd into an intimate chorus before amounting to an intense crescendo, paving the way perfectly for their breakthrough Undertow.

And then, after returning for a majestic encore of Elephants, they were gone, disappearing into that cold February mist from which they came. An intense, transcendent and truly unique experience from a prematurely legendary band. We don’t see how it could get any better but, at the same time, with Warpaint the best is yet to come.

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