The Austin Chronicle

Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: White Lung

By Greg Beets, November 10, 2013, 9:28am, Earache!

Mish Way makes a compelling frontwoman. Bleach blonde and clad in black, she cuts a striking figure, commanding attention with every minor hand gesture. And that’s before she sings a note. Like Penelope Houston and Kathleen Hanna before her, Way distills jagged punk rage with a nuanced emotive backdrop to create a singular vocal presence.

The dramatic bombast gets quintupled by guitarist Kenny William’s tuneful Eighties post-punk assault. Anne-Marie Vassiliou, meanwhile, tattoos her drums with a poker-faced fury. There was no point during White Lung’s Saturday afternoon performance in which you didn’t get the sense that the Vancouver quartet was about to get swallowed by the big stage.

All that said, maybe it was mid-tour lethargy or the familiar curse of being a night band in broad daylight, but their half-hour set only hinted at what they’re capable of. The frenetic pacing of their 20-minute LPs arrived slightly underpowered and occasionally downright plodding.

Beyond Way’s undeniable charisma, the band’s onstage chemistry waned, and the crowd responded in kind. A sea of onlookers stood at attention. Some bobbed along at medium speed, but few really threw themselves into it. As William skittered through frenetic phrasing and Way belted against the darkness on “Bag” from 2012’s Sorry, the full package came within a hair’s breadth of fruition.

It’s not hard to imagine Way holding sway over a festival crowd, but until White Lung figures out how to upscale, their otherwise thrilling fusillade remains best experienced in a more intimate setting.

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