Through the plethora of tweeny pop punk and identikit metalcore bands around these days, it is rare to find something “different” and unique to listen to. If word was to be believed however, The Red Paintings would fit this description, so a Thursday evening soujourn to London’s Borderline venue was in order to see if they lived up to the hype.
Prior to “TRP” as they seem to be commonly known across the Interweb, there was support from “Them & Us” (7), who are a two piece act with an avant-garde electro pop / synth pop sound. Their music may not have been everyone in the room’s proverbial drink of choice, but there was a certain quality that made them very interesting to watch. One imagines they are more interesting in the flesh than on record, but certainly worthy of investigation.
Prior to the main event, the lights were dimmed and two models were led on stage. Female, distinctly lacking in most clothing aside from what was needed for modesty’s sake and wearing gigantic alien….head pieces, for want of a better word, this was not your average beginning to a show. Shortly thereafter, The Red Paintings took to the stage in their Japanese Kimono inspired stage attire and one could feel the increased anticipation from the attendant masses.
It was apparent from the opening song (“It Is As It Was”) that The Red Paintings (9) were indeed not your average band. The efforts of Alix Kol on the electric violin and Ginny Eck on bass combined with singer and guitarist Trash Mcsweeney’s ardent riffing to create an encapsulating sound while their drummer Hayley (whom it was informed post-gig was new to the band) thundered away. Whilst this was unfolding, the alien models came to life, gyrating on their platforms while masked performers snaked their way throughout the crowd, startling and entertaining members of the audience in turn.
As the evening progressed, there were some excellent songs such as “Streets Fell Into My Window” and the ferocious “Wasps” while the masked performers were unveiled as artists, who took to painting the models on stage (thereby revealing the “human canvas” part of the act that had been mentioned in the build up). With so much going on at any one time between band and artists, one often did not know where to look, but sooner or later the music would once again take precedence.
A cover of “Mad World” momentarily slowed the pace and allowed the audience to join their voices as one with Trash, before a second cover, of Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” was a great unlikely success, partly attributed to Alix Kol’s excellent violin skills replacing the heavy guitar riffwork. Matters were concluded with the title track from The Red Paintings acclaimed album The Revolution Is Never Coming, before an encore that included new song “Fuck The System”, which displayed a more aggressive tone which may point to an interesting direction for their second album. Overall it was a thoroughly excellent performance, one which should have thrilled all within The Borderline. Indeed the only suggestion would be for Trash to lose his (R2D2) backpack, as it seemed to get in the way some of the time.
The Red Paintings sound is difficult to describe; prog rock or art rock are helpful pointers but do not explain matters nearly well enough. It is a combination of bands such as Muse, Aerogramme (well worth researching if one is unfamiliar), Smashing Pumpkins and ‘Trail Of Dead, sounding akin to these artists but completely unique at the same time. Ultimately they are a band indeed worthy of considerable attention, and a repeat UK tour as soon as possible would be most welcome.