Review – White Lung at the Electric Owl, Vancouver, Dec. 5, 2014
– review by Connor Fingler
Five minutes to midnight, and the explosive sound of “Sycophant” sparked intensity into the packed crowd at East Van’s Electric Owl on Friday night. By the time of White Lung‘s second song, a massive pit had formed and the stage dives had begun. I quickly lost count of how many times the disco ball was kicked by the flailing legs of the audience.
Coming off the release of Deep Fantasy, their third full-length LP, the Vancouver band seemed determined to showcase the acclaimed record, which accounted for the majority of the set’s 14 songs. The album has received favourable reviews from the likes of Pitchfork and Exclaim, and was recently touted number six on Stereogum’s top 50 album’s of 2014. After returning from an extensive touring stint throughout Canada, the US, and Europe, Friday night’s show marked the third stop on a four-show West Coast tour that’s passed through Portland and Seattle and finishes in Victoria. The Vancouver show is undoubtedly their biggest of the four, being a hometown gig for the band.
From the start, the band was unmistakably tight. The rhythm section was on key, and the bass held the powerful, driving low ends when Kenneth Williams‘ guitar playing moved into the high parts. Mish Way’s vocals were right on point. They had a raw intensity to them that isn’t replicated on recordings. Donning a leopard print top with her iconic bleach blonde hair, Way was the focal point of the show with her ability to control the crowd. Sincere thanks to the audience were extended throughout the gig, but this didn’t distract from the band’s aggressive and abrasive attitude. By the third song, Deep Fantasy opener “Drown With the Monster”, the crowd was driven to an even greater frenzy. A sea of fist-pumps greeted every shout of the title. The band left their debut album It’s the Evil (2010) untouched, but they did include a number of tracks from 2012’s sorry.
Opener Mormon Crosses was a sublime addition to the bill. The three-piece art punk band captured the crowd’s attention with songs like “Our Language”, a song that started slowly but ended in a violent instrumental outburst. A guest vocalist hopped onstage for their closing song, which further epitomized the intimacy of this hometown show and left the audience anxious for the headliner.
The entirety of White Lung’s set was the high point, though. How could it not be? Only 35 minutes long, it still managed to include almost everything you wanted to hear. The show evoked so much ferocity and tenacity that I couldn’t imagine it lasting much longer than it was.
White Lung setlist:
Down it Goes
Drown with the Monster
Just for You
I Believe You
Two of You
Blow it South
Take the Mirror