Sean’s Night Out: The xx, Warpaint and Zola Jesus
Sep 28, 2010, 11:31 AM | Updated: May 13, 2011, 2:07 pm
By SEAN DETORE
I arrived to The Paramount Theatre with such a flutter of emotion in my heart that for a brief moment I thought I might need to invest in a pacemaker to make it through the evening. You see, I’m familiar with The xx and I know some Zola Jesus, but it’s Warpaint that make me shiver with overwhelming elation. As I entered The Paramount, sans pacemaker, and made my way through the crowd, I could sense the slightly subdued yet building excitement from the crowd.
It was just after 8pm and Zola Jesus had already taken the stage. I stepped inside the auditorium for a brief moment and saw Zola Jesus, a.k.a Nika Roza Danilova, a diminutive blonde girl standing on the stage amid her bandmates bathed in red light. She was singing ‘I Can’t Stand’ from her Stridulum EP and it was a perfect translation from album to stage, her voice just as beautiful, bold and booming as you would hope to expect.
After a few songs I decided to head to the lobby as I was waiting for my cohort/photographer Alyssa, who would be capturing the stills of the evening. I took my place along the wall near the merch booth, feeling the buzz in the room growing stronger. As I was surveying the area I noticed this girl standing in line buying overpriced booze. I was almost positive that she was a member of the band Warpaint. She had shorter hair than I remember her having in the video for the bands sweetly mesmerizing song ‘Elephants,’ but her eyes looked so very familiar. My heart began to flutter. It was at this moment I was thinking that a pacemaker might be appropriate. I wish I could write that I went up to her to ask if she was in fact a member of Warpaint, but I didn’t. Instead, I watched her walk up to some friends and sip her overpriced booze drink.
Alyssa arrives and we get our plan of action together. My plan is to watch the show and write a sterling review. Alyssa’s plan is to take amazing photos of Warpaint and The xx. Synchronize Swatches. Go!
Alyssa knows that my heart goes pitter patter with any mention of Warpaint and so she asks if I would like to shoot them. Um, yes please! After a brief tutorial on proper camera usage and public photographer etiquette, I head down to the front of the stage. As I’m sitting, waiting for the band to start, I noticed this girl on stage tuning her guitar. However, this wasn’t just any girl, it just so happened to be the same girl I saw standing in line buying overpriced booze. She was a member of Warpaint! Too bad I didn’t say what’s up.
The lights go down and Warpaint hit the stage starting with an instrumental number I haven’t heard before. It’s calming, it’s pretty and I love it. It may be a new song from their upcoming debut LP The Fool due out Oct. 26th. I began snapping photos of the band trying to get some decent pics but it’s really challenging to do that in extremely dim red light. However, being able to listen to Warpaint while I tried made it ok. Warpaint is an all-girl quartet coming out of L.A. and have been on my radar since the release of their debut EP, Exquisite Corpse, which is one of the best records you will ever experience ever. The translation of sound from cd to the live setting was a little rough around the edges at times with some of the shared vocals not being as strong as they appear on the record and while listening to ‘Elephants’, one of Warpaint’s most beautifully crafted songs, I remember thinking that I would have rather been listening to it through a pair of headphones at home. Overall, the set was great. It was nearly impossible not to get lost in the sad swirling guitars and psychedelic soundscape emitting from the stage. I was surrounded by emotion and suffocating from a slow, exquisite heartbreak.
I walked back to my seat after finishing my photo shoot with Warpaint so I could experience The xx with the rest of the audience. Twenty minutes or so went by, then the room went dark, the curtain fell and the audience went absolutely berserk. People jumped out of their seats and were completely transfixed on The xx. The trio, coming from London, have been steadily rising in popularity since hitting the music scene with their debut album, xx, which was met with much critical acclaim. “Basic Space” is an awesome song that will get stuck in your head for days and it’s also the song that really got the crowd moving. At times it was sort of hard to hear the vocals but I don’t know if that was because of the thick English accents or the sound guy not mixing things properly. The xx weren’t excessively chatty with the audience between songs but at one point the male singer did address the crowd by saying that he really loved Seattle because when they were playing here some time ago he accidentally said that it was nice to be in Philadelphia and the Seattle crowd didn’t boo him. So he’s got that going for him. The xx put on a great show; I just really wish that I had been more familiar with their album before attending the concert because a lot of the songs sort of sounded similar which made me lose interest at points.
The entire evening was full of melancholy and it was the happiest I’d been in a long time.