Another win for New York (suck it, LA)

Warpaint, Beach Fossils, Mini Mansions – Knitting Factory – June 15th

When I opened the door to the show area at the Knitting Factory, I was immediately bombarded by a blast of sound. Quite the change from Sunday night’s gentle percussion and airy vocals. Drums definitely seemed to be the focal point for Mini Mansions, the first openers of the evening. Interestingly, neither the guitarist nor the keyboardist/main vocalist are in the spotlight. Nope. The drummer proudly assumes the position at center stage.

Mini Mansions

It’s easy to rag on Mini Mansions, but I suppose they really weren’t so bad… at least not when they make it through songs. In a cringe-worthy few minutes early into the set, they took a lengthy break between songs without looking to banter to help fill the dead air. Shortly after they finally started playing again, they stopped abruptly and the guitar player ran off stage. At one point, the audience even got thanked for “sticking through it.” Yikes.

One unexpected highlight during their short set, however, came when they started playing a cover – Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” The tempo was definitely slower, and it was weird hearing male vocals, but it was kind of fun.

Beach Fossils

Luckily, Beach Fossils were up next. Full disclosure: I’ve seen Beach Fossils on countless line-ups around the New York, but until last night I had somehow never seen them play. The bar was set fairly high. In addition to all the talk, I witnessed a charming run-in between a teenage boy and the Dustin Payseur, Beach Fossils’ lead singer, before the show when I was buying my ticket. The kid, after initially expressing his interest in the band, turned to Payseur, saying excitedly, “We’re totally here to see you! Not the other band.”

Despite the fact that I was blinded by spotlights during the first few songs in their set, Beach Fossils did not disappoint. The Brooklyn group lifts the best parts of recent sonic trends without getting too bogged down in one thing. They’re not too sleepy, psychedelic, or twee. Instead, they occupy a pleasant middle ground.


Up until this point, the evening had been pretty testosterone-heavy, making Warpaint a welcome change of pace. The four female members started going crazy as soon as they walked on stage, dancing and jumping around wildly to the house music. As they got ready to play, one of the guitarists leaned into the mic, saying, I’m all out of breath. That really gets your adrenaline going, dancing. Indeed.

With their utterly unrestrained dance moves and their rich, sultry vocals, the LA 4-piece was almost animalistic in their appeal – especially when they traded in lyrics in favor of guttural sounds. But the thing about Warpaint is that these ladies also know how to slow things down. Their repertoire is not stocked simply with frenzied dance songs. Last night, they also played a string of slower songs, including the lovely “Billie Holiday,” which lifts the chorus to “My Guy.”

But for their last song, they got back to business. OK! This is your last chance to dance! yelled one member. Then, following the usual thank you’s, some big news came at the conclusion of Warpaint’s set when one of the band members revealed to the sold-out crowd that they’d be leaving LA and moving to New York next year. Sweet.


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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