TVD Live Shots: Warpaint at Capital Turnaround, 7/22

I’ll confess to being unfamiliar with Warpaint prior to last Tuesday, when I had the pleasure of photographing the LA dream/ psychedelic pop quartet at Washington, DC’s Capital Turnaround. I’m more into rock and metal and usually prefer loud, shredding guitars to dreamy harmonies. So, while I headed into the venue not entirely sure what to expect, I headed home a new fan.

Warpaint faithful gathered early to get good seats in the general admission venue and to catch techno duo Belief. Belief is a collaboration between Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa and producer Bryan Charles Holon. For roughly 20 minutes they played their thumping techno music shrouded in darkness, against a backdrop of rapidly changing graphics projected onto a screen. It got the crowd moving in their seats and many fans leapt to their feet and cheered the duo as they took their bows.

Soon the quartet of casually dressed, cool, LA women (drummer Mozgawa, guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman, and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg) took the stage, launching into “Stars,” from the 2012 album Exquisite Corpse. The band’s latest album, Radiate Like This, was released in the spring; six of the ten tracks on that album were in the set. The audience ate it up. There were many notable moments, including the stunning “Melting,” when the group gathered at the front of the stage to sing together while only Kokal strummed a guitar and, appropriate for DC, a cover of Fugazi’s “I’m So Tired.”

After the band’s last album was released in 2016, other priorities crept into the women’s lives; it wasn’t clear they’d ever tour or make music again. So naturally the atmosphere at Capital Turnaround exploded with the joy of fans hungry and grateful for the new music.

I enjoyed weaving in and out of the dancing and singing as I wielded my camera; there was one middle aged couple who established a personal dance floor in the back of the room. True to the cliché, the man really danced like no one was watching and was obviously having a great time. So was everyone else. By the middle of the set, I was starting to dance myself, overtaken by Warpaint’s heady, intoxicating harmonies and experimental guitars, grounded by an impressive rhythm section.

A quick note about the venue, Capital Turnaround.  For nearly a century it was the Navy Yard car barn and served to repair and reroute trolleys; it’s been repurposed as an event space.  I mention it here because, not only is it a terrific room but, within the context of the long slog of the pandemic, and the havoc it wreaked on the music industry, being able to experience a show in new surroundings felt great.

Warpaint continues to tour North America, taking a break after performing in Detroit on July 28.  They pick back up in California on August 18 and tour through Labor Day weekend.


Keep It Healthy
Hard to Tell You
Love is to Die
New Song

I’m So Tired
Send Nudes

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