Warpaint & Seja at Northcote Social Club

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Warpaint & Seja at Northcote Social Club


Ah, shit. What’s the deal with people sitting down at shows these days?

Ah, shit. What’s the deal with people sitting down at shows these days? I would have thought common logic would dictate to keep your junk as far away from sticky bandroom floors, lest you be heading down to the clinic for a penicillin shot the following morn – but that’s just me. That was the scenario presented as I forced to watch opening act Seja (not to be confused with the homonymic pop-songstress Sia) while shuffling along the floor perimeter like Adam West’s Batman. Anyway, it took a while to pinpoint why Seja possessed a familiar stage presence, but the light bulb lit up when I later found out she was the mighty ‘Gurge’s synth-master in their most recent outings. There we go.

Speaking of trends that shit me to no end, Seja and band partook in frequent bouts of inter-song instrument-swapping, stifling any semblance of momentum generated. These minor grievances aside, it was a pretty solid set of genre-defying, and at times surprisingly heavy, tunes. As the room began to pack out, Warpaint’s newest recruit – our very own Stella Mozgawa – was welcomed onstage to hit the skins for a singular jam. Rounding out the set with a delightful track that sounded like it was beamed directly from an AM radio all the way from 1986, Seja bid farewell to a fairly sated, if still seated, crowd.
Thankfully, everyone was forced to their feet as the venue hit capacity shortly before the much-hyped main event was due to take stage. It seems like Warpaint have seemingly come out of nowhere, selling out the Social Club two times over merely by riding a tidal wave of potent buzz. Turns out they’ve been around for quite a while – experience a revolving door lineup for many years before settling to release their debut album The Fool late last year. If the playing times pasted on the wall were to be believed, we were in for an hour’s worth of music – depressingly enough, a rarity for single-album-deep bands (coughsleighbells).
The three-quarters Californian outfit was greeted by rapturous applause, then reciprocating with wry smiles as they kicked off the set with a restrained, slow-burner. Things kicked up a notch when Mozgawa finally took the throne behind the kit. And holy shit – what a fucking gun of a drummer! Some pretty ridiculous fills and general champion skinwork took the group’s solid repertoire to the next level.
Breakthrough single Elephants went down a treat, as did killer album cut Undertow. The band’s four members relay a finely attuned dynamic, imbuing the sound with refreshing originality. Vocal harmonies and a solid rhythm section result in a pretty tasty mix of haunting hypnosis and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll.
Comparisons have been made to The xx, and while such a description may hold up against the sparseness of their recorded output, in the live setting they are far more comparable to the psychedelic sounds of Tame Impala. But unlike either of those acts, Warpaint actually look like they’re enjoying themselves onstage. It was like a prolonged duelling session of musical banter for the rhythm section – looking like they were having a blast trying to trip each other up in the stop-start beats which form the foundation for most of their catalogue.
After some prolonged goading by the crowd, Warpaint rejoined us for an acapella rendition of Billie Holiday – one of the group’s earlier, pre-album numbers. It provided enlightening perspective as to how far the outfit have progressed, with the track consisting of little more than a fairly boring and pointless recital of each letter of the titular songstress’s name mashed with a cover of Motown standard My Guy. It was a fairly insipid end to an otherwise near-perfect jamfest, leaving those in attendance with the feeling that next time the group visit our shores, they’ll be crushing it in far bigger, sold-out venues.
Loved: A buzzband actually living up to the hype, and then some!
The wasted couple that would not shut the fuck up during Warpaint’s quieter moments. Kudos to the hero who politely interjected to great effect.
Cloudy and brown – cider town.