Review: SVIIB + Warpaint at Slims

school of seven bellsI’m woefully far behind on photo editing, and I know that I’ll be even further behind after Treasure Island Music Festival this weekend. But I saw a fantastic show last week at Slims: School of Seven Bells with openers Warpaint. Here’s a brief review, and links to many pix of their beautiful inspiring performances.

I arrived late at Slims. There was a beautiful waning full moon rising over the east bay, and I made an unscheduled detour under the bay bridge to take pictures. So I missed Phantogram (sorry guys!) , but luckily arrived just in time to catch Warpaint’s haunting set. Their music (as well as the Twilight Sad’s) imbues a melancholy emotion that deeply resonates with me as of late. Their songs have a fragility and tenderness that’s unexpected. Unfortunately I was completely confused about the opening band’s names, so I accidentally brought home the Phantogram EP instead of the Warpaint EP. Luckily Phil saw their show in Seattle a few days latter and snagged Warpaint’s Exquisite Corpse EP which he’ll be delivering in person on Friday.

School of Seven Bells was the main event. I’d missed them when I was shooting Sasquatch in the spring, and have been eagerly awaiting this show for months. They did not disappoint. This three piece rocked Slims with their woozy shimmery shoegazer sound. I read the Spinning Platters review that complained that they lacked stage presence. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Benjamin was set back a mere three feet from the Deheza twins, and had plenty of room to do his thing. And do his thing he did. He was animated, expressive, and wore his emotional heart-on-his-sleeve as much as any non-vocal performer could. Alejandra’s vocals were beautiful, and she played guitar in wonderful swooning synchronicity with Benjamin, turning about and getting as close to him as she could. There was a huge mass of effects pedals surrounding Benjamin that made for a bit of an electronic moat, but they bridged it on many occasions. Claudia was pretty much motionless in front of me, reminding me of the shy Gillian from New Order.


As is the case with most shoegaze acts, the lighting was minimal and primarily from behind, occasionally from the side. The only source of lighting in front was from lovely ethereal and luminous videos projected onto a large screen. The images contained a small screen pattern, much like a screen door that looked much larger as it hit the bands faces and provided a great effect of highlighting the dimensions and expressions of their faces. Maybe it was my stage right position, but from where I stood, I was able to see brief but wonderful catchlights in Alejandra’s eyes, which was amazing given how low the light was. Eighty percent of my shots were crap, but there were half a dozen that were priceless, and I hope help to convey the softly muted but very expressive beauty that is the essence of School of Seven Bells.

View the complete set of School of Seven Bells images on Flickr:
[flickr album=72157622558338920 num=7 size=Thumbnail]

View the complete set of Warpaint images on Flickr:
[flickr album=72157622410049177 num=7 size=Thumbnail]


  1. I must say, your photos give everybody more stage presence. I’m glad to agree to disagree on this one, though.

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