Warpaint at First Avenue, 3/29/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo By Erik Hess

With Cate Le Bon
First Avenue, Minneapolis
March 29, 2014

Warpaint took nearly four years to release their second album, so it wasn't surprising that they took a while to heat up at First Avenue on Saturday night. But the Los Angeles art-rock quartet eventually found a spark during their 90-minute set, which drew equally from their new, Flood-produced self-titled album and their 2010 breakthrough, The Fool.

See also: 
Slideshow: Warpaint rock First Avenue

Starting with "Feeling Alright" seemed to be a clandestine way for the band to gauge the mood of the audience. When the club responded warmly as the song came to an end, Theresa Wayman exclaimed, "All right. I see how you guys are."

The band is fronted by Wayman and Emily Kokal, childhood friends who shared vocal and guitar duties throughout the performance, both musicians adding flourishes of sonic texture wherever it was needed. But they had an icy cool demeanor for much of the night, keeping some distance between them and the crowd that they never fully bridged. That rightfully put more focus on the songs themselves, which gradually coalesced as the night wore on.

The rhythm section of bassist Jenny Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa formed the pulsating heart of the performance, and they were locked in throughout the entire show, giving songs like "Intro" and "Hi" a restless, slinky cadence that was infectious and irresistible. A mercurial version of "Composure" found the band really hitting their stride, with the track featuring a feisty intro that gradually gave way to a moody, seductive spirit. Kokal dropped to her knees while delivering her impassioned vocals, an unguarded moment where she was clearly lost in the song's essence.

Photos By Erik Hess

Lindberg took a moment to thank the crowd and praise Minneapolis in a bit of a backhanded way, "It's wonderful to be back here in Minneapolis. We thought it would be a lot colder, but it was actually really beautiful here today. It's a great place." Wayman provocatively stood on the edge of the stage as she led the band through their current single, "Love Is to Die," which was momentarily plagued by Kokal's guitar issues, but eventually her Smiths-like riffs kicked in and the alluring number took off. After a loud ovation, Wayman affectionately declared, "I thought Chicago was amazing last night, but you guys are killin' it."

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