Review: Warpaint & the Garden Live at Hammersmith Apollo


I'm usually a bit meh where support bands are concerned, scarred for life by having to watch the awful Scott 4, over and over again opening for every act I saw 1999-2005. That's why it's always nice when an act make you sit up and take notice- and the Garden Twins are hard to ignore. First impressions suggest the louche Orange County natives wouldn't be out of place in Italian Vogue, but once they get started you soon forget their chiselled cheekbones as they launch all they've got into an energetic set. Their sound is hard to define, coming from a stripped palette  of bass, drums and samples, but what they do with such limited equipment is impressive. There's an edge of Death from Above 1979, punk sensibilities in short frenetic songs mixed with surf guitar riffs. It's genre defying especially when you add in the spoken word intros between songs and dance party breakout perfomances, whatever! They're the most fun band I've seen in an age and I can't wait to catch them again.

Props to their girlfriends too, that was the most exceptional balcony dancing I've seen, and boo to the security guard for ruining your fun. This is what I captured, sorry for the shitty phone video but you get the gist!



A video posted by gembien (@gembien) on



Next up Warpaint, who are becoming my sort of Grateful Dead in that I've seen them about ten times now in three different countries, though more by accident than design. But enough on my Penny Lane aspirations, the interesting thing is everywhere from the El Rey in LA to Dimensions festival in Croatia and now tonight in Hammersmith they're equally mesmerising. I hear a lot of criticism about lack of meaning in lyrics (usually from boys) but for me the band's real strength is their synchronicity. There's a real sense  of connection between the girls which adds a richness to how their songs come together. It's an improvised and layered noise which I think could be seen to be less accessible than a lot of female bands but there's something about the delivery which draws you in and seduces you slowly and hooks you. As I've said it's hypnotic and if the rapt audience are anything to go by I'm not the only one who feels this way.  Highlights of the set are "Love is to Die", "Teese", and the poppier sounds of new track "I'll Start Believing". There's an acapella interlude which again plays on layers of sound, this time in girls harmonies. Somehow this avoids being fey or twee despite the fairy lit strewn stage, maybe it's because they look like they're having so much fun doing  ot maybe these laid back Californian girls are just to cool to care. Whichever way you look at it, it's working wherever they play.