Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio, was the next stop for LA quartet Warpaint, continuing along to the remaining cities of their US tour. In support of their newest ventures, the third studio album ‘Heads Up’ was released in 2016 after band members had taken a short break in order to pursue separate projects. Much in relation to the massive talent of the indie dream pop/art rockers, the album was produced in a matter of months.
Ohio-native Jessica Lea Mayfield opened up the show, with her combined stylings of singer-songwriter and folk rock, with country vibes. Mayfield’s dark lyrics and minimalist approach compliments the ladies of Warpaint perfectly. Related note: something that has been proven time and time again, is to ALWAYS arrive early to see the supporting bands even if you are only there for the headliner. Much to the audience’s surprise and delight, Mayfield closed out her set via hit ‘Our Hearts Are Wrong’- with the accompaniment of Warpaint’s very own Emily Kokal and Jenny Lee Lindberg on vocals, as well as drummer Stella Mozgawa. Nothing could have topped the transition between acts.
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The main floor of the Newport was surprisingly only half-occupied when Warpaint hit the stage. Although disappointing, this allowed fans to appreciate the experience as a whole. There are essentially two types of people who love Warpaint: those that appreciate the band for the ambiance that they create through hypnotic vocals and harmonies, and those that jive to the pop vibes and keyboard influences. The floor was mainly divided between those getting up close for an intimate experience with band members and those that supported the latter type, the dancers and swayers.
Regardless of the experience, the emotional quality that Warpaint gives out was undeniable even by the time they hit ‘Undertow’, four songs into their set. This was a shining moment especially for vocalist Emily Kokal who visibly put all of herself and her emotions into the song, through the chorus lyrics-
“What’s the matter? You hurt yourself?
Open your eyes and there was someone else.
Now I’ve got you in the undertow.”
Kokal was definitively more visibly open about her pain and past experiences through the lyrical content of the set, while Theresa Wayman and Jenny Lee Lindberg were slightly more closed off and stone-faced.
Although the band members have their differences in terms of relaying what the music means to them it is unmistakable that they have the relationship of a sisterhood, all in support of the freedom of expression. Throughout their performance, four candles were lit and glowing onstage with one main candle near the middle, being the most obvious to viewers. Near the end of the set, Kokal explained that the candle was a metaphor, “a celebration of music and life, and celebrating the spirit of it all.” A powerful nod to the music world especially following the recent death of musician Chris Cornell.
Warpaint closed out their show with ‘Disco//very’ and a bellowing promise of “WE WILL BE BACK.” Columbus certainly hopes so. Good news for the rest of the world is that it isn’t too late to catch Warpaint if you have yet to see them perform. They are taking their tour globally as soon as they finish this last arm of US shows, and are soon after picking it back up in the fall to open for the almighty Depeche Mode. Catch them while you can.