White Lung melts faces with brand-new record Sorry at the Biltmore

Picture of White Lung from the band's Facebook.

Punk band White Lung is as beloved by the Vancouver scene as the smell of PBR. To anyone who attended the release party for their new LP Sorry, Thursday night at Biltmore Cabaret, it’s easy to see why.

The night started calmly enough. The audience gradually filled the floor, walking slowly forward from the shadows like zombies to the living, to watch Men at Adventure. Almost a poppy version of fellow locals Shearing Pinx, their sound was a fitting opener.

Systematic and B-Lines warred over the circle-pit moshing that the next two hours brought. "Cool that Warped Tour shit," spat the Systematic frontman, while swinging from a cord in the ceiling. "Let's see more of that Warped Tour shit," said the equally unhinged B-Lines singer during their following set, before narrowly missing a kid's foot with a hurled glass.

Then, White Lung's unfairly hook-y, metal-fast brand of punk filled the space, and the reason they were headlining became obvious.

The set had a rough start, guitarist Kenny William snapping strings after only one song. To fill the silence, stupid jokes were dished by front-row patrons, and vocalist Mish Way herself before continuing. ("Knock-knock. Who's there? Off. Off who? Off to Never-Never Land...")

The new songs—like first single "Take the Mirror", the nauseatingly hypnotic album highlight "Thick Lip", or "Glue", as catchy as any Katy Perry radio virus—were well-received. This is much to Way's credit; she shrieked, yowled, fell to her knees and curled into the fetal position, her cotton candy hair perpetually veiling her face. This singer has stage presence even when she's nowhere near one.

William's shredding, hard and structured one moment, and splintered and thin the next, was a perfect counterpart. Drummer Anne-Marie Vassilou and bassist Grady Mackintosh's rhythm section was a pounding that never seemed to let up, a fascinating mise en abyme of sound.

Recently, Way told Exclaim, "I worked really hard on melody on this record." Live, it was evident in spades, and the songwriting growth since White Lung cut their metal-stud teeth on debut It's the Evil is something the band should be proud of.

That's not to say that their older material didn't square up to the new. White Lung classics like "Viva La Rat" and "Atlanta" are still the best Pickton-country punk has to offer, and their black-taloned grip took just as strong a hold on Thursday's audience as ever before.

And that's the key thing, the difference between White Lung and so many of their contemporaries. They just have the songs. Punks can spit blood, scream until they're blue in the face, or even swing from the ceiling, but if they can't make a record you want to dust off years after it's come out, who cares?

Luckily, White Lung can. And, with Sorry, it's fair to guess that they've done it again.

Watch their newest video below.

See video

More in Music

Ultimate Valentine's Day playlists: The smooth, the seductive, and the sappy

Spotify has given us the ultimate Valentine's Day playlists. The following musical collections contain soulful heavyweights, a few retro gems, and one or two sappy-sweet classics.

Vancouver thrash-punks Joyce Collingwood gear towards a jump

My interview with Vancouver thrash-punks Joyce Collingwood didn’t start out the way you would expect. We didn’t start talking about the new material they’re recording — or about the departure of...

Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2012: photos

The 35th annual Folk Music Festival is not to be missed: here are some gorgeous scenes from the event, which ends on Sunday.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.