On Wednesday, June 25th, I ventured to St. Vitus Bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to see White Lung play. I had been itching to see them live since the first time I heard their music—which was, quite embarrassingly so—only about a year ago. I’ve been enamored with their music ever since they came onto my radar, especially with Mish Way—as a front woman, as a lyricist, and just as a person. So when I found out that they were not only doing a Deep Fantasy record release show in New York, but would be playing in one of my favorite Brooklyn venues, it was a no-brainer that I’d be in attendance.
Wednesday nights are weird nights for going out. It’s the proverbial “hump” day, which always manages to be the longest day of the week. However, my usual hermit-ness in the summer on work days goes out the window when concerts are in question. Nothing was preventing me from feeling like a badass babe and heading to Brooklyn for a show, hoping to have a great, anecdote-filled story to write about.
Disclaimer: I’m the biggest tool in the world. I go to shows with this grandiose idea that I’m going to chat up the band members at the bar and become fast friends. Not like a “groupie” (can you be a non-sexual groupie?). Just, you know, the next time that band rolls around they’ll remember me and we’ll have fun stories to share. This idea has come to fruition zero times. Instead I just stand with a drink in my hand, smiling awkwardly at anyone I recognize from a band. I’m socially inept as soon as I get to a venue.
Before the show, my fiancé and I stopped at a Mexican café that was only two doors down from the bar. I got a sub-par carnitas burrito, which was far inferior to his chorizo. Slightly unsatisfied by my culinary decision, we headed over to the bar to settle in before the show. Now, I’ve mentioned that St. Vitus is one of my favorite venues, but let me explain why: St. Vitus is a black metal “heaven” (or whatever you would call the otherside opened by the anti-Christ). The place is dimly lit and decked out in blasphemy. Their beer and shot specials are all listed by price in ranking order of church officials (though, they place “bishop” above “archbishop,” silly blasphemers!) All jokes aside, a bar with that kind of atmosphere can easily be the cheesiest place ever, but it’s actually a great venue. The staff is always friendly and efficient, the sound is great and they put on decent shows.
Unfortunately, I was too full to indulge in any of their specialty St. Vitus buns, which are devilishly delicious (I’m sorry). I recommend them if you find yourself hungry after hours of headbanging to some death metal and downing pickle back shot after pickle back shot. (Their pickle back shots are a specialty and not once, but twice during the night, did I hear two people make a “Pickle back? That’s my favorite shot and my favorite band!” joke). I didn’t go for those, either. It was Wednesday after all, and that carnitas burrito was just planning its evil indigestion-filled revenge.
We managed to weave our way through the packed bar to the front when it was time for White Lung’s set. I was ready to experience the estrogen-filled raw woman power of the band spraying upon me. I couldn’t wait to see this awesome female-fronted hardcore band in full swing live.
I feel ambivalent toward the term “female-fronted.” It’s as if some exception needs to be made, like it’s such a novelty to have a kickass woman singing. Mish Way
is a woman, who does front a band; and, who does, in fact, kick indubitable ass. But I find myself conflicted: is it necessary to have to constantly point out when there’s a female lead singer or just a female(s) in the band because we constantly have to remind people that women can be a part of the punk scene? Or is it important to note it because of just that—because, fuck yes, women are an immensely huge part of the punk scene and no, we shouldn’t forget it. I think saying “female-fronted” doesn’t have to imply novelty, but instead recognition of an undeniable truth that far too many people refuse to acknowledge. Punk should be a safe space for women to show off their talents, not just be regarded as “Oh wow, they’re great for having a woman in the band and she’s fun to look at!”
The crowd was into the music, but a little still for an in-your-face show at a smaller venue. It had been pretty tame, actually. The exception was one girl who, when knocked into by people in the pit, decided to backwards-windmill into a group of people standing behind her. At one point it got so tame that Mish questioned, “Are you guys dead? Why are you acting dead? …The least they could do is dance.” At her command, the crowd went wild. The band powered through their fourteen-song, thirty-three minute set. It almost felt too short, but still fulfilling as only their raw, punch-you-in-the-face-with-realness can provide.
The show was awesome and White Lung was great to see live. And not great “just for a band that has a female lead singer.” Not “half bad for a band with a chick drummer.” Not “just alright for a band with a lady bass player.” They’re just a good fucking band with equally talented members. They’re also a fantastic band because they have some amazingly talented female members. (And, of course Kenny, who is a phenomenally talented guitar player.)
No, I didn’t hang out with the band after the set. It was a Wednesday night and sleep was calling my name. While I was worried that I wouldn’t have a story to regale anyone with, I realized: Who needs a story? Who needs anecdotes? What I went home with was the experience of enjoying a great show, and a reminder that women definitely do fucking kick ass in the punk scene, and should be noted for doing just that.
And indigestion. Really bad indigestion.
Jamie L. Rotante is a NY-based writer who reads comics for a living and goes to shows for fun. She doesn’t always bite. Say hello to her at Twitter.com/Jamitha.