Black Lungs


It was a dank, miserable evening. The rain poured down, the streets were flooded, and the Black Lungs still managed to pack Underworld’s dark and cozy interior with a young, energetic crowd. I was looking forward to an evening of youthful idealism and rebellion, and the crowd certainly fit the bill. Few appeared to be over 20 years old, with many young sweethearts out for a night together away from the tyranny of parental eyes.  This would be a night for vivacious punk riffs, and everybody knew it.

Black Lungs is the side project and brainchild of Wade MacNeil (guitars, vocals), best known for his role as a guitarist in Alexisonfire. They also feature George Pettit (bass), also hailing from Alexisonfire, and Pat Pengelly (drums). There was a string of openers: The Reds, who had an eclectic mass of songs ranging from reggae, cowboy style and, of course, punk.  Local band Never Drafted, who gave numerous shout-outs to their Marianapolis and Dawson College classmates, weren’t advertised to be there, but made a great show of it. Finally, Run For Cover wrapped up the opening sessions with a not-so-gentle deafening cacophony of punk beats and overpowering vocals. One band was missing – Mockingbird Wish Me Luck was unable to attend.

There was palpable anticipation as the Black Lungs were getting setup, throngs of young fans crowded close to the stage. Every action scrutinized, excitement hung in the air. Finally, the Black Lungs made a mature, confident swagger onto the stage, captivating the audience.

They began with an intense but melodic piece with a captivating rhythm, and in true punk form began jumping around, head banging and rocking out without missing a beat. Their sound was heavy, aggressive and rife with a deliberate unapologetic aggressiveness, assaulting the senses with both music and noise. The audience was captivated, almost nobody was standing still. This is what they had come for, true rebellious punk!

The mosh pit exploded, sending the photographer and I running for cover. It engulfed most of the floor, a wide circle of frothing youth and playful aggression. Band members would even jump in, heightening the frenzy and revelling in the action. Wade commented on how it’s strange not being able to purchase beer at a venue (Underworld doesn’t sell alcohol), and went on to shout out to the Habs and light-heartedly poke at the Toronto-Montreal rivalry, even going so far as to have Habs jerseys and towels on stage.

Musically, the instruments were well played, but the lyrics gave me the impression of having the same word screamed over and over into the mic. I couldn’t tell what the word was, but that’s the nature of most heavy music. The songs were short and sweet, but the crowd loved every second of it, thus the band did a great job and rocked the house down!

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