To kick off the week before Valentine’s Day, Los Angeles-based band SWIMM and musician/bassist Jennylee of Warpaint threw on the Love You Down Fest, a two-day music and arts extravaganza celebrating the local LA music and arts scene. The event was a sell-out as artists took over both stages at the Echo and Echoplex in Echo Park, providing an extremely intimate and exciting environment for fans, artists and friends alike.
Aside from headlining both nights (with a different set list each night), all four of the artists in Warpaint took to the stage for their own special sets and solo appearances throughout the two-day event. Jennylee headlined her own solo set Thursday night, featuring tense and moody beats, atmospheric sounds and her signature heavy bass lines; Theresa Wayman (“TT”), who released her solo album Love Laws last year (a relatively natural extension of the band’s aesthetic, if not more revealing on an emotional level), performed Friday night; as Emily Kokal performed a project with Deafmute and Stella Mozgawa had her own project Thursday night, as well.
With a lineup featuring some of LA’s best upcoming indie artists, the festival served as the 15-year anniversary party for LA’s beloved indie rock band Warpaint. The event truly felt like a community, as the love in the room was felt entirely both nights.
After an hour-long wait at the downstairs Echoplex stage, eager fans waiting patiently woke up from their daze as Warpaint took the stage by 11 p.m. for a full 90-minute set. The quartet’s Thursday night set was incredibly moody and atmospheric, as they delved into deeper hits: opener “Krimson” off their debut EP Exquisite Corpse, was an incredibly lush and meditative atmospheric hit, as the crowd shrieked in excitement; “So Good” and the infectious pop catcher “New Song” off 2016’s Heads Up both got the crowd moving. It wasn’t until later into their set where they dived into older hits, playing a special rendition of “Billie Holiday,” the biggest hit off their debut EP. The quartet’s folky, haunting rendition of the David Bowie song featured the band lined up at front, offering each of their whispery vocals and joining in on the meditative lullaby.
As the band went into “Beetles,” a personal favorite, the crowd went crazy. The buzzy vocals and easy drumbeats over a fun bass line, which features guitarist/vocalist Theresa Wayman at the helm, is an angsty hit from their first EP that emits all the confusion and angst that comes with being alive. “Where am I, why can’t I just get it together? / Fuck it, where’s my shit? / Oh my God I’m mad at it” Wayman sings. The crowd, ready and willing to shout out every last word, sang along with Wayman, “I wanna throw it out the window / I wanna throw it out the window,” with their fists in the air and wailing alongside each other. The song’s interesting song changes, spacey guitar riffs and mesmerizing guitar lines were absolutely stellar. (…)
The energy in the room was something else for Warpaint‘s closing set on night two of Love You Down. The band pulled out an incredible set for this night, playing more hits from their self-titled album and The Fool. Frontwoman Kokal expressed how much love was felt in the room and how amazed they are that the band is still together. Still, the packed house had everyone completely entranced by the band. Fans were cheering, expressing their love and singing along to every word. Hit song “Elephants,” which they played earlier in their set, completely put the crowd on another level. The song had the entire crowd moving and singing along as the band went hard on their spacey guitar riffs and Jennylee’s heavy bass. “Love Is To Die,” another crowd favorite, had Wayman take the lead and go out into the crowd, grabbing hands as fans were completely entranced by the tune’s infectious heavy bass line, Wayman’s meditative vocals and catchy spacey guitar lines provided by Kokal. Songs like “Disco//very” and “New Song” equally got the entire crowd moving.
For their encore, the band closed off with a special performance of “Undertow,” perhaps the song that had put the band out there and changed their trajectory. The special eight-minute performance was full of energy and featured the band’s signature musical breakdowns and jams that have Emily, Jennylee and Theresa all taking turns to move closer together, beaming with energy and laughter. In particular, Jennylee’s bass lines were incredibly infectious as she took to face Emily and Theresa throughout to rock out and vibe, showing how much fun Warpaint is to see and witness.
Warpaint’s music is something that deserves to be experienced, and it’s truly inspiring to see a band fueled on pure emotive feeling, expression and atmosphere (something that has continued to set them apart in a heavily pop-centric, male-dominated industry) still kill it after 15 years. Kokal even expressed her amazement, saying that in an industry like this, 15 years is a long time and the band is grateful for each and every fan who has continued to support their music. (…)
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Be sure to click through the individual day links to see all of the of the acts that we were able to catch at Love You Down Fest!
This article is featured on Blurred Culture.