Whitney’s Whimsical Thursday in Chicago

Photo by Sandy Kim, courtesy of Noisey

Before I get into how Whitney put a huge, corny grin on my face last night…

Thursday, November 2nd marked the second day of Red Bull Sound Select’s 30 Days in Chicago, a genre-bending November festival, hitting different venues every night of the month, overwhelming music junkies and concert-goers everywhere.

Admittedly, when tickets went on sale for the month of music ($15+ fees for every show, are you kidding?!), I got a head rush typing in credit card information while texting friends coordinating who also was going to spend a ton of weekday nights out. My bank account weeps, but I tell myself this is better than a cocaine addiction.

Anyways, Whitney. 1. Please listen. 2. Please listen in a good mood. 3. Please listen in a sad mood. It doesn’t matter because their collective of extremely talented instrumentalists come together to produce a sound no genre-snob knows how to classify, smoothly charming ears and warming hearts of indie lovers and hip-hop heads alike.

Chicago-grown frontmen Max Kakacek (former guitarist of Smith Westerns) and Julien Ehrlich (former drummer of Unknown Mortal Orchestra) partner as an impressive songwriting duo, backed by a group of artists supplying everything from horns, keys, back up vocals, and last night, even a string quartet. I was… moved???

Upon the recommendation of a friend, I started listening to Whitney about a year ago, and quickly had their debut album, Light Upon the Lake, on repeat while being sad, unemployed, and living at home. (Shit happens, ya dig?)

The heartbreak that bleeds from Julien’s delicately delivered vocals, especially in the title track, “Light Upon the Lake,” instantly brings you a humbled loneliness. You seriously feel like you’re standing alone, staring out into a huge forested landscape, questioning life Henry David Thoreau-style, and missing your baby, all at the same time.

Fast forward a few months to this summer (employed! living in Chicago! doing things!) I’m listening to the 10 song production on vinyl at my apartment, and am brought instant joy, especially while belting the upbeat “No Matter Where We Go.” Somehow, you forget how well this album suits solitude when suddenly all you want to do is take a road trip with your best ally with “Golden Days” on repeat.

It takes a special group of artists to blend all of these emotions in just one album, which brings me to finally seeing Whitney, live and in-person! Metro, the intimate Wrigleyville venue (seriously why is Metro in Wrigleyville), hosted the group last night, preceded by two openers, Mt. Joy and NE-HI.

Hearing Whitney’s infectious melodies live put into perspective the simplicity of their sound. You really do get lost in the trailing beauty of it all, and the warmth of the lyrics in the room. Apparently, me being lost in great live music turns into posting up with a derpy ass smile on my face for an hour.

From bringing out a woman-dominated strings section to add depth to “No Woman,” to covering Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll be Staying Here with You,” Whitney proved their versatility while honestly just putting on a kickass show.

So besides the scotch-wasted dude in front of me for part of the night, it was a wonderful Thursday, to say the least. Accompanied by a couple good friends, we left super smitten, roses in hand, anxiously anticipating Whitney’s next project to make listeners feel all types of ways.