Following the debut of their 2019 EP, The Way Felt Feels, post-punk quartet Warm Red solidified its status as one of East Atlanta’s most promising new acts through their intensely energetic live performances. Since they first emerged on the live stage in late 2018 alongside Atlanta heavy hitters All the Saints, Warm Red consistently garnered large turnouts as people immediately took the group’s merging of ‘80s post-punk, noise, and alt-rock, ultimately crystallized and delivered with frontperson Toni Gary’s ecstatic and erratic stage presence.
But where does a band like Warm Red land in 2020? With numerous venues shuttering their doors indefinitely as a result of the pandemic, there is no live music, no house shows, and for all intents and purposes, no longer a music scene in the way we’ve come to know it. These are, frankly, bleak as fuck times, especially for those who turned to the stage and performances by bands like Warm Red to feel a sense of connection or energy. However, the group’s latest single, “Legwork,” off their impending LP due out later this fall, is a spot of hope in immense uncertainty.
Production-wise, the track is markedly more thoughtful and polished than their first EP and shows a newfound confidence and maturity for the relatively new outfit. And this comes not a minute too soon. While The Way Felt Feels served as a strong introduction for Warm Red, it didn’t quite reproduce the magic of their live shows; and at the time, it didn’t need to, because this isn’t typically a problem. Capturing intensity and power can be a tall order for a studio recording. And didn’t stop us from including their previous releases on our 2019 End of Year lists. However, Warm Red can no longer rely on exciting, chaotic stage presence alone.
While losing the live element of Warm Red is certainly disappointing, it’s allowed for new strengths to take the spotlight. Lead vocalist Gary’s claim to fame has previously been their star-quality on stage, but the latest single allows Gary’s playful lyrical prowess to really shine. Thematically, “Legwork” encourages taking the path of least resistance and warns of being too laborious, repeating, “It takes a whole lot of legwork to walk on water.” But their expert command of cadence is evident:
“Why invite me over / When I can smash my car into your foyer? / I think it looks good there / I’m sayin’ / It’s not a truck anymore / It’s a living room / With an airbag in it / It’s a commitment to safety”
It’s unclear how 2020 will change the way music is disseminated and produced for the foreseeable future. It is likely many of our favorite musical acts of Atlanta will be pressing pause on their projects, or calling it quits all together. However, new acts will emerge, new methods will be found in unexpected ways, and our musical landscape will adapt. But amidst this precariousness, Warm Red is certainly putting in the work.