Whitney’s show Thursday night at Revolution Hall was nothing short of good vibes and warm hearts. It was a partial homecoming for the band as drummer Julien Ehrlich grew up right here in Portland. He called out friends, family members, and old high school acquaintances in the crowd and there was a humbling tone in his voice as he realized they were all in one room to support him and his fantastic band. Whitney was still touring off their 2016 critically acclaimed, and full-length debut, album Light Upon The Lake, one that was arguably the best of the year. This was to be their first show back in Portland since their last performance at Holocene in August of last year and it was clear that their audience had grown largely since then as this show had quickly sold out.
After the band entered the stage, Max Kakacek’s guitar sounded off during opener “Dave’s Song” before a full band came in with a hefty, full sound of percussions, trumpets, and keyboards. Ehrlich’s uniquely, soft voice glided over intricate instrumentation and the crowd danced to their upbeat indie-folk sound. They continued the lively energy with “No Matter Where We Go,” the band all smiling and moving vibrantly on stage.
Whitney slowed things down for a bit with “Polly” as only keyboards played under Ehrlichs voice before the rest of the band came in towards the middle to give the song a mighty, triumphant finish. They then beautifully transitioned into their jazzy instrumental song “Red Moon.” The trumpet was in the spotlight with it’s sporadically touching solo. Although Whitney at its core is only two members, the great thing about seeing them as live band is each supporting member is offered their own solo moment that completely captures the audience’s attention.
When they played one of their latest releases “You’ve Got a Women,” a Lion cover, they brought a groovey atmosphere that spread from the people standing directly at the front of the stage up to the very back of the balcony. “Golden Days” was a highlight of the show, the entire band joining in from start to finish and the crowd singing along with every lyric. People held each other tightly and lifted their beers during the “na na na na na na’s” and the room harmoniously came together.
Whitney treated the crowd to a new track they had just finished, one so new they asked the crowd not to record it. The song had the traditional Whitney sound but you could hear growth within it. Ehrlich spoke to the crowd in between songs as if he was having a casual conversation with them and mentioned that they have a cabin rented for the summer up in Mt. Hood where they would be writing and recording new music. Before ending their set with “No Woman,” the song that brought them to the surface, they asked people to join them at down the street at Star Bar where, if you’re a local, know that’s one of the best, relaxed places to hang with your buds and drink a few beers. That wasn’t far from what the Whitney show felt like; watching your old friends play an informal show that brought joy and nostalgia to everyone hanging out.