Featuring: Whitney at Bluebird Theater, Denver, CO 12/03/17
Chicago’s Whitney came through Denver this week for double-shows at Bluebird Theater December 3rd and 4th. The six-piece outfit, who are best known for the 70s-inspired indie rock sounds, have only been together as a project for two short years. In that time, they’ve released only their debut album, Light Upon The Lake (2016), which saw them touring internationally and signed to Secretly Canadian. The record was produced by Jonathan Rado (Foxygen).
Whitney first came together when members Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich’s former project Smith Westerns ended. Ehrlich, who had also drummed for Unknown Mortal Orchestra, became the main vocalist of Whitney and remains so, which is somewhat of a rarity in the music realm for a drummer. As such, Ehrlich was seated atop a risen platform for the Bluebird shows, allowing the audience to see him well as the clear frontman of the band.
Singer-songwriter Julie Byrne opened the sold-out evening on Sunday, which proved to be a bit of a challenge for a crowd who was ready for more noise. Her lullaby-vocals and finger-picking on guitar were indeed beautiful, but were often interrupted by the chatter of the Bluebird crowd (darn you Denvah- respect!).
When Whitney took the stage, the crowd cheered; next to me a girl with “X’s” on her hands teared up in excitement and commented that she too had a sinus infection after Erlich announced apologies for his own illness. Though you wouldn’t think of Whitney as your typical teen-heartthrob act (or… would you?), I can confirm (at least in Denver) that they in fact, are.
Whitney proceeded to play tunes from Light Upon The Lake; the title track was a clear crowd favorite. They also dropped in both a Bob Dylan and a Neil Young cover; later they surprised us with a track which they announced was new and will likely be released on their next album. Ehrlich talked directly and often to the crowd, even telling a story of the band’s venture to Topo Designs earlier in the day where he stole a bunch of free soap that fell out of his pockets onstage, making you feel more like you were his friend at a house show more than anything else, which really connected the audience to the band’s every move. The six-piece returned on Monday for a second set, and one of their last of 2017. Currently, their only other listed performance is a New Year’s Eve show at Brooklyn Steel in New York.
Though their upcoming record is still hush-hush, it will be interesting to see what Whitney follows up with. Their experience and well-connectedness in the industry, along with their successful trajectory over the past two years on the road, leads us to believe they could be rocking at much bigger venues the next time they roll through town.
Keep up with Whitney here.