By Michael Hoarty
One of the few moments of stage banter from vocalist Mish Way, the vocalist of White Lung, was responding to someone in the front row demanding for more bass.
She goes, “Are there any other complaints? Let’s just get this cleared up right now.”
Maybe it’s not “punk” for a band like White Lung to care about sound quality in a live setting (for what its worth, from where I was standing, everything sounded crisp throughout), but White Lung isn’t your average punk band. This tour is a victory lap for their tenth anniversary as a band, as they tour behind their most recent album, Paradise. The album showcases a more melodic and fine-tuned sound than what they had done in the past, but live, it all blended together for a loud-as-hell and energetic tour-de-force. Paradise was majority of the setlist, with 8 of the 14 songs played being from the album, but they managed to play it with the same energy that they conveyed when they brought back older songs like “Bag” and “Take the Mirror” off of their 2012 album Sorry.
That liveliness came heavily from the sonic crispness. Way would occasionally fall on her knees and scream into the mic, but she spent most of the show with her eyes locked into nothing in particular, her arm occasionally gesturing as if she were performing a sort of rebel-rousing political speech. Guitarist Kenneth William stared at the ground for most of the show, grasping his entire and riffing it like his life depended on it. The whole band seemed to care less about looking cool as they did about sounding good, and damn if they didn’t sound really good.
The Empty Bottle was the perfect venue for a show like this. Its intimacy and the unfortunate sparseness of the crowd, only added more clout to Way’s brooding stage presence. The set only lasted 40 minutes, but as I walked out of the Empty Bottle, my ears verged on bleeding, but in the best way possible. The band didn’t need 90 minutes to make a show feel whole - they got on stage, did their business, and left everyone floored.