Photo by Bjørn Giesenbauer
Tape made a great booking when they nabbed Whitney for a Sunday show here in Aarhus – selling out a show in the middle of August in this town is next to unheard of for one of the venues, however the limits of how many warm bodies the building can comfortably hold were possibly pushed. It was hot. Like Georgia hot.
I was praying the band wouldn’t be a second late for their 21:00 show time, but they were. The place was packed so tight that there was no reasonable hope of getting to the bar or toilets and still returning to your patch. The ancient wooden floor was bowing under every movement and Denmark’s ‘taller than average’ young crowd were obscuring the view of the microscopically elevated stage. Enough about the playing field though – we’re here for the game.
Whitney’s Pitchfork-approved blending of indie, soul and country came across really well in the small confines of Tape. Their sound is bone dry (as in zero effects or reverb) which gave it a kind of intimacy or warmth that music like this craves. Opening with “Dave’s Song” gave the set a real down-home vibe (The Band, Van Morrisson) and as the sound settled – it was evident that the group could play the record even better than they recorded it.
Obviously as a new band with only one record out they wouldn’t have a large bag of tricks to grab from, but they did manage to pull off a jazzy re-working of the instrumental, “Red Moon” and a really faithful arrangement of Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” with a kind of Allan Toussaint vibe to it. I have to hand it to the trumpet player, Will Miller, who made a single trumpet sound like an entire brass section and a lonely street corner soloist often on the turn of a dime.
What became evident here is that beneath the geeky hungover stage banter in between swigs of tequila and wine is that this band has chops. Let’s not forget that (drummer/lead vocalist) Julien Ehrlich was a beast behind the kit in Unknown Mortal Orchestra and with many of the other members of Whitney in Smith Westerns. Their performance gave me absolute confidence that this isn’t a “project” to be trifled with – but the makings of a very formidable show stopping band if they want to go in that direction.
Whitney on stage had some great moments that helped the audience get through a tough night in the crowd. Again, I don’t think there would’ve been room for one more person comfortably (or even if one more person had had one more burger before) but everyone there was certainly supporting the band. I think most of us were thinking; ‘yeah – they could totally play somewhere bigger’, but for whatever reason – they weren’t. It was worth the sweat and cheaper than a trip to the cinema. That’s value homey.
"I think most of us were thinking; ‘yeah – they could totally play somewhere bigger’, but for whatever reason – they weren’t. It was worth the sweat and cheaper than a trip to the cinema" (4/6)