Whitney graces Milwaukee with a warming performance

Author: Jake Walczyk
Last night, Whitney graced Turner Hall with a delightfully soothing performance. Having toured the Bradley Center earlier in the day, the band showed its excitement to be back in the city by throwing on Bucks t-shirts for a segment of the show.

The opening band NE-HI got the hall warmed up the immediately, hitting the crowd with their signature Chicago rock n’ roll energy. Though there was a large contrast in intensity between the bands, each mentioned numerous times that they consider each other to be some of their closest friends. This was apparent when midway through NE-HI’s set, the entire Whitney band came out with Smirnoff Ices for NE-HI members to chug. NE-HI returned the favor later in the night by joining Whitney on stage as backup singers for “Golden Days”.

Whitney’s lead vocalist/drummer Julien Ehrlich was astounded his own band’s exceptional performance, periodically mentioning how proud he was of their delivery of the songs. This was my fourth time seeing Whitney in the past year, and I will say that the guys have come a long way with their performing chemistry and on-stage presence. Not only had the sound improved, but there was an apparent growth in confidence, leading to a truly entertaining show. Lead guitarist Max Kakacek whipped out a brand new guitar for this show, which Ehrlich noted he was ecstatic to play. Though a seemingly minimal detail, it gave a fresh, new sound to each of their tunes.

Unfortunately, the new tracks “You and Me” and “Southern Nights” recently released on the demos album did not make full appearances in the set. The crowd pleaded for “Southern Nights” between songs, which Ehrlich acknowledged, admitting that the band had not played it since 2015 and would not be able to play it during this show. The band proceeded to begin playing “You and Me”, but cut out after a short intro. Their cover of Dolly Parton’s “Gonna Hurry (As Slow As I Can)” led off the second half of the show after a brief intermission. Kakacek and Ehrlich were the only members on stage for this, making for an intimate serenade to the crowd. Whitney also previewed the song “Rolling Blackout”, which will most likely make it on their next album. The song focuses on the theme of depression, but is balanced with a feeling of hopefulness that Whitney has worked so well into their trademark sound.

Despite touring almost constantly for 2 years on the same album, Whitney always finds a way to make each performance unique. Their album is only 30 minutes long, but by throwing in a variety of covers and allowing room for improvisation during live sets, the band always keeps the audience on their toes. Whether you saw this show or not, be sure to catch them next time they’re in town because they are bound to be better than ever.

You can catch WSUM’s co-hosted Whitney and NE-HI show at Majestic Theatre in Madison tonight!