all photos: Shauna Alexander
We started out Saturday night at the Rock N’ Roll Hotel with a group of Brooklynites called The Family Band. Usually the opener at a smaller place like this is nothing to write home about; The Family Band is an exception. Their singer, Kim Krans, was the only person on stage who was not dressed up all in white. Her baggy black outfit matched perfectly with her moody and deep crooning she put to each song. Evidently the majority of The Family Band’s songs are written in a small hand-built cabin in the woods of the Catskills where the band began. This group with such a stark colour palate really is somewhat of a family since Kim Krans and guitarist Jonny Ollsin are a married couple.
The combination of an artist and a former metal guitarist created a sound that strongly reminded me of an eerie, art-house version of The Cranberries. They are soft and melodic at times but then can come at you with a renewed intensity and a more metal influence behind the vocals on the next song.
This music video can give you a better taste than my words are able to…
The next band to come up, Rewards, also from Brooklyn, played a shorter set than I would have liked. Rewards has a certain ethereal sound that uses a lot of feedback, echoes and drawn out crescendos to get there. You may be aware of the singer and creator Aaron Pfemming from the band Chairlift, famous for soundtracking that ipod nano commercial. He makes up ALL of Rewards. On recordings he plays everything and then engineers and produces it himself. When he performs live, like on Saturday night, he has a band to back him up. But it is obvious who their leader is by his matted-to-dreads blonde weird up-do, enigmatic stage presence, and his placement on the stage just a little in front of most of the band. Their music is cohesive, however, and Rewards creates a lush, spooky feel heavy on effects. My favorite song I heard was called “Two Cardinals”, so go check that janx out.
The headliner that we had all come to see was Warpaint. This band from LA has a sound that is difficult to describe, but I will try and call them experimental dreamy psychedelic post-punk. I looked up their myspace description to help me find some good labels and it seems like Warpaint themselves have it nice and vaguely nailed down with “Ghettotech / Melodramatic Popular Song / Psychedelic”. Anyways, there has been a buzz about Warpaint for a while now. It’s probably due to Shannyn Sossamon and her short stint(s) drumming for this dreamy art-rock girl group. Her sister plays bass in the band as well. Can you feel the babe levels rising? Even after their star actress left the band these girls kept it going and have what Aaron Pfemming of Rewards touted during his set as “the best album of 2010”.
Warpaint is really light and airy with wispy guitar riffs, but their newest member and drummer Stella Mozgawa brings it all back down to earth. She grins away most of the time and the crowd definitely loved her because during one break in songs a group of female voices suddenly shouted her name. Each of the four girls in Warpaint has solidly achieved babe status. You can catch yourself staring at each of them in turn and just be in awe. I can promise that everybody at this show either wanted to be one of these gals or date one of them. Why else would we all have gotten there so early? That’s some powerful stuff. Powerful enough that I am pretty sure I fell in love with guitarist Theresa Wayman after she played the song “Bees” and had her hood up for like 8 songs.
These played us into a trance with a beautifully dark layered sprawling sound. The harmonies were strong and the melodies unpredictable at times, which gives Warpaint that psychedelic feel. The band and the music altogether can just be described as dreamy. Their new single “Undertow” was a big hit and sounded possibly better live than recorded.
The set lasted about an hour and they bid us all goodbye individually with little waves and compliments that it had been a pleasure to play for us. Adorable! They came back out for an encore after a long pause and after an excited crowd chanted “WARPAINT WARPAINT!” for a solid minute. The encore was the classic track “Billie Holiday” and it was simply gorgeous. Now go out and buy their new album, The Fool.