Image Courtesy of Chantel Ouellet

Whitney is a relatively new indie band hailing from Chicago, Illinois. The band primarily consists of Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich, yet on tour they present as a group of seven. The band formed in 2015 after Ehrlich’s former band, the Smith Westerns, broke up. Whitney’s debut album, Light Upon the Lake (2016), dropped at the start of June. Five months later they are touring internationally with their stop at Lee’s Palace being their ninth sold out show in a row.

Prior to seeing Whitney live, I had no idea just how many people played in their band. However, I would credit their amazing group dynamic and talent to their incredible performance. A seven-piece band is sure to pack a quite complex sound, and each of the members brought personality and charisma. One highlight of the show was Will Miller on the trumpet. He was such a defining feature in Whitney’s music, his notes soaring through Lee’s Palace and elevating their show. 

The band played the majority of the songs off their LP, including their hit songs “No Woman” and “No Matter Where We Go.” They showed off their chops as talented musicians with their song “Red Moon,” which is entirely instrumental. A highlight of the show was when they covered Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” off of Nashville Skyline (1969). They also covered “Magnet” off NRBQ’s album Scraps (1972). 

Ehrlich was sure to keep the crowd involved with all of his cute banter. For example, before breaking into “Golden Days” he looked out over the crowd and asked, “Anyone here in love tonight?” Ehrlich then advised the crowd to “hold on to it” before breaking into the love song. 

It is obvious these boys are romantics, all dreamy chords and heartfelt lyrics. They know it too, introducing songs like “On My Own” as “a reggae song about love.” For when love gets rough, they played “No Woman” last, explaining it as being “about having a girlfriend and then not having a girlfriend after that.” The crowd erupted in applause as the show closed out. Once the applause started to die down they played one more chorus and the crowd sang along, almost overpowering the band with their excitement.

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