When a band doesn’t take the stage until well after midnight, it’s easy to wonder what kind of energy level they’re going to have, especially when they play again the next day at a festival in the afternoon. That curiosity slipped away immediately after Los Angeles psych-rockers Warpaint took the stage at Irving Plaza (QRO venue review) in New York at 1:00 AM on Saturday, June 3rd for their official Governors Ball After Dark gig, with an energy that suggested they loaded up on caffeine before their set.
That energy immediately picked up a crowd that seemed sleepy. Opening their show with the title track from their 2016 masterpiece Heads Up (QRO review), the band didn’t give the crowd time to catch their breath before transitioning beautifully into “Krimson” from their Exquisite Corpse EP that launched the band in 2009.
“Are any of you tired?” singer and guitarist Emily Kokal asked the crowd following the first two tracks of the night. “Good, neither are we.” The amount of work Warpaint puts into their live show is most evident in their transitions and their jams where they are able to stretch out songs and make you wonder how much of it is on the fly.
The band has been on the festival circuit pretty heavily since Coachella back in April, and this was their first gig since playing Hangout Fest a couple weeks ago in Gulf Shores (QRO recap). “The Stall” from the new record and old cut “Beetles” were two songs that were played that have been left off festival set lists.
Warpaint always feeds off their crowd, and despite the afterhours start time, it was a good one. One especially tall gentlemen cheered and screamed prior to the start of every song and sweated like he was on all of the ecstasy in New York City, and the band got a kick out of his and the rest of the crowd’s appreciation.
Vocalists Kokal and Theresa Wayman took turns moving to the front of the stage to look out into the crowd to serenade them with their mystical singing. Bass player Jenny Lee Lindberg and drummer Stella Mozgawa flashed big smiles all night as the two seemed to try and one-up each other – Mozgawa eventually delivering an awe-inspiring drum solo intro to one song.
What’s great about a Warpaint gig is how the deep cuts land just as well with the audience as their better-known tracks. Fans appreciated the musicianship of “Bees” and “Disco//Very” as much as hits like “Undertow”.
“It’s just a party from here on out,” Kokal said, before launching into the lead single from the latest record, “New Song”. Despite being on my feet for ten hours at Governors Ball, it was one of several moments I jumped off my feet that night. The groovy “Disco//Very” closed the night and the band reminded those in attendance to check them out at 3:45 PM the next day at Governors Ball. I wouldn’t be surprised if more than a few scrambled to buy a one-day pass just to see them the next day.