Whitney: Cool, Calm and Collected Rockers
Words: Madisyn Siebert • Photos: Laura Ord
Whitney, an indie-rock band whose name is often confused with the late-great Whitney Houston, played one of the most relaxed shows I’ve ever attended. The engaged crowd was calm and attentive on a Tuesday evening in September at Delmar Hall, attuned to everything that was happening on stage, just like the band.
Whitney’s setup was simple yet elegant: a backdrop made of cover art from the band’s latest album, Forever Turned Around, with simple, different structures for lights that would echo throughout the performance. What was noticeably different compared to most concerts is that for Whitney, the drum set took the spotlight by being placed front and center on stage, accompanied by a mic stand for drummer and lead vocalist, Julien Ehrlich.
Ehrlich, accompanied by his bandmates, took the stage in the darkness, and as their walk-on music faded, it soon transitioned into the band playing “Polly.” As each accompanied instrument was gradually added, the musician who was playing it stood up from the ground as the stage slowly illuminated.
Between each song, Ehrlich took the opportunity to talk to the audience and even joke around with them from the stage, which the crowd gladly reciprocated. He noted that the tour had just started the other night in their hometown near Chicago, and that the crowd there was too rowdy. He said the vibe and acoustics at Delmar Hall were perfect.
The band carried through with the same pattern, playing a song and then taking a moment to joke around with the crowd—at one point asking if their Uber driver George ended up coming to the show after they placed his name on the guest list, which, sadly, he did not. The pattern was broken when the band transitioned from one song to another gracefully and smoothly.
Whitney takes a different approach to their music, highlighting specifically underrated instruments: the drums and the trumpet. The guitars, bass and keyboards helped uplift those two instruments to make sure they were given the recognition they deserve.
Ehrlich’s voice makes Whitney’s sound even more interesting. His higher pitch paired with soft lyrics equals a fully rounded-out sound—something even well-established bands are still searching for.
The calmer nature of the music, although entertaining and accompanied by a great crowd, has the tendency to fade into the background as the crowd begins to have conversations among themselves. Even though Whitney has impeccable skills and songs, their energy made it difficult to focus on them at times.
The band rounded out their show with songs like “Golden Days,” “Giving Up” and “Dave’s Songs.” They addressed their finale before it happened, joking that, “We may not even leave the stage between breaks.” The band did exit the stage for the encore before swiftly returning, saving their biggest hits for last: “Used to be Lonely,” “No Woman” and “Valleys (My Love).”
Whitney has discovered their sound and has attracted the ideal fan base for them—cool, calm and collected people