It was quite the treat to catch both Sherlock’s Daughter and Warpaint at Mercury Lounge on Monday. Given my occasional tendency to ignore much hyped bands, it’s a good thing that I’d seen both of these acts live previously before the buzz train started, and I’m happy to say that both are well-deserving of the adoration. The sold out show was a fantastically paired bill where both bands complemented the other perfectly, each offering a variation on an overall mission and vibe: ethereal and psychedelic.
First up was Sherlock’s Daughter, recent New Yorkers by-way-of Australia. Drawing on influences as varied as dream-pop, Kraut rock and various subgenres of modern folk, their songs balance enchanting melodies with tribal rhythms and shoegazey guitars with a myriad of percussion, including a well-placed glockenspiel. The band seems to favor having songs start quietly and slowly, only to crescendo to a climatic end, while the gentle vocals of lead singer Tanya Horo are often amplified by dazzling group harmonies by bassist Liam Flanagan, guitarist Tim Maybury, keyboardist Jonti Danilewitz and drummer Will Russell.
The quintet has a charming and playful stage presence that found Horo dancing, or at one point, even skipping, across the stage, when not playing various instruments including guitar, keyboards and percussion. The brief set opened with “In The End,” and included “Reprise” and the lullaby-ish “Hush Little Baby.” There were also a couple of new songs from forthcoming album (produced by John Agnello), which is expected later in the year. The band finished off with “Song For Old People,” which started with group hand claps and had Horo doing a hypnotic dance with the tambourine, but not before she joked about the placed being so crowded because everyone had “crushes on the girls from Warpaint.”
Headliners Warpaint kicked off with the very groovy instrumental jam “Warpaint,” and segued beautifully into “Stars,” the lead track from 2009’s Exquisite Corpse EP (Manimal Vinyl). While tonight’s set drew heavily on new material (five of the eight songs) from the forthcoming full-length expected by the end of the summer on Rough Trade, there were also a few old crowd favorites, such as “Beetles” and the closer, “Elephants.”
Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman, both on guitars, traded off on lead vocals as usual, but with Kokal’s voice ailing, the set favored songs where Wayman sings lead, with bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg and drummer Stella Mozgawa on backing vocals. One of the new songs, as yet untitled, had a pretty wicked drum solo at the end, while the band’s newest edition, Mozgawa, traded the drums for guitar (with Wayman moving to drums) for another new one entitled “Set Your Arms Down.”
Though ethereal and psychedelic, the Los Angeles-based quartet’s exceedingly danceable music has a clear post-punk and dark wave influence, with mesmerizing guitars and haunting melodies and vocals. It’s transportive for band and fans alike, and much of the audience seemed to be die-hard Warpaint fans who knew the music well. It was hard to not just close my eyes and get lost in the music, but watching the band perform, sometimes with eyes closed while lost in their own songs, subtle but sexy dance moves and all, was all the more captivating. –Teresa Sampson, Photos by Tear-n Tan