White Lung / Teenanger Hard Luck Bar, Toronto ON, April 22

White Lung / Teenanger Hard Luck Bar, Toronto ON, April 22
Photo: Cam Lindsay
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A lot has happened to Vancouver punks White Lung since they last played Toronto in the summer of 2012. Their second album, Sorry, gained serious momentum and the band have been featured in Pitchfork and Interview. They've toured with fellow buzz bands like Iceage and Merchandise, and stole the show for many at this year's SXSW. Vocalist Mish Way has been making a name for herself thanks to her second career as a journalist, writing colourful, engaging think-pieces for Vice and The Talk House. But the accolades for White Lung all come down to the music itself. And though their two albums sound visceral and bracing through headphones, on a stage is where the music truly comes alive.

In front of an all-ages crowd, the four-piece barrelled through a half-hour set that ignited a rowdy yet controlled mosh pit. With their songs averaging two minutes, they packed them in tight, but ripped through them with a natural rawness and tension. Way may not have been the outspoken stage persona the media makes her out to be, but her mix of composure and chaos as a singer recalls a figure like Iggy on his best behaviour. Her support — guitarist Kenny William, bassist Grady Mackintosh and drummer Anne-Marie Vassilou — conducted business like professionals, maxing out decibels as they shredded and pounded away with the utmost efficiency. Needless to say, their reputation as a thrilling live act was on display in full.

Openers Teenanger too exuded a primal energy that acted as a perfect appetizer. On the night of frontman Chris Swimmings' birthday, the Toronto punks set off selections off last year's Frights LP like a blitzkrieg. Swimmings is a striking performer, from in-your-face movements to asking the crowd for celebratory booze, he complemented the just-get-shit-done philosophy of his bandmates.

At a time when bands like FIDLAR are celebrated as punk champs, both White Lung and Teenanger reassured us that there are at least a couple of bands bringing us something real without all the posturing.