Despite the amount of attention paid to the band’s most recent album, the righteously brilliant Deep Fantasy, White Lung remains something of a well-kept secret. While that is a little exasperating in one sense, it does mean that the venues for the group’s shows remain pretty small and that their punk-rock essence remains intact. This was in evidence at Los Globos, a venue in which the gap between the stage and the audience is pretty much non-existent, and where taking photos involves balancing yourself on a stool and hanging over a raging mosh pit.
Lucky for us, White Lung plays the kind of explosive, visceral yet deeply melodic punk that does not so much benefit from a small and fired up crowd as it demands it. They do not do a “slow one.” They do not make any prog-rock detours. They deal in a much-tried, rarely bettered kind of anthemic punk. They also don’t mess around, blowing through this entire headline set in about 35 minutes flat without leaving anyone feeling in the slightest bit shortchanged.
White Lung’s appeal is all down to old fashioned fundamentals. A ferocious touring schedule over the years has tightened up their sound. They have a photogenic, sincere, and dynamic frontwoman in Mish Way. They have a rhythm section that is an exercise in propulsion and momentum, somehow getting away with playing at roughly the same pace for the whole show without feeling repetitive. They also have, in the shape of Kenneth William, a tremendous and underrated guitarist who manages to cover all the bases of driving rhythm guitar and squealing leads without ever looking like he’s trying.
And, of course, they have the songs. Deep Fantasy is full of them. Muscular and passionate blasts such as in the opener “Down It Goes” and the fists-in-the-air chorus of “Face Down” in particular display White Lung’s high level of quality control and provide constant evidence of why this lot has been getting so much attention. The crowd’s reaction was predictable: a chaotic pit that regularly tipped over onto the stage, yet somehow avoided disrupting the set in any way.
You can put that down in part to the fact that White Lung has been playing shows like this for a while now, and their current status as the punk band to watch is a testament to some pretty solid values: a healthy dose of inspiration matched with a hell of a lot of perspiration. If White Lung goes on to bigger audiences (the signing to Domino and the quality of their new record put them in a good position to do so), it will be a success richly earned. For now they’ll continue blowing away these smaller crowds with the confidence that comes with knowing you’re the shit.
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