Whitney at Newport Music Hall

Everly Jazi


Chicago seven-piece, Whitney played a sold-out show at the Newport, bringing expressive tunes to Columbus.

The band started the jam-style solos right away with jazzy “No Matter Where We Go.” The band’s own bright circular lights flashed with the beat as the piano, three guitars, and Will Miller with one hand on his trumpet and one on the synth, danced over the rhythm. Julien Ehrlich played drum kit in the front, with a curled microphone capturing his uniquely high vocals.

The polished band played the instrumental “Rhododendron,” a smooth, gaudy piano carrying things until a series of trumpet-heavy sections. The band went straight into “Forever Turned Around,” in all its soul and Ehrlich steadily tapped the jam block on his kit. Ehrlich’s talent and coordination came through with his keeping up with both intricate drum arrangements and full vocal melodies.

The track went into a slow groove with piano chords and a slight trumpet swing during the bridge, the lights emphasizing certain aspects of the harmony. Guitarist Max Kakacek played a solo section with his slide on the frets, and pianist Malcolm Brown played with such rigor he could not stay seated.

The audience swayed to every tune, getting the band’s attention during the jangly “Golden Days.” Ehrlich smiled to Brown as the crowd sang along.

“You all like Justin Fields?” Ehrlich asked the audience. “Our fans aren’t usually football fans… but what he did last year was incredible.”

The band said they caught another Columbus favorite, seeing one period of the Blue Jackets game. After the banter, the acoustic guitar and bass led into “Day & Night.” Kakacek’s slide glistened ears with his psychedelic progression under Ehrlich’s feel-good vocals. The three guitarists played an outro and the band ended on one note.

Kakacek and Ehrlich started “Light Upon the Lake” alone, the crowd silent. With his hands clasped behind his back, Ehrlich started a kick drum beat and Brown came in with a circling piano tune. Finally, the song built up and Ehrlich took out the drumsticks. The trumpet and bass briefly entered, quiet still over the reverberating vocals.

Whitney played an NRBQ cover of “Magnet,” a drum-heavy song. Brown played an old timey, pub blues piano melody and twangy guitar moved quick under Ehrlich’s high vocals. Miller played a classic jazz trumpet solo for his turn of the jam and the band ended with that.

“See you in a sec,” Ehrlich said as the band stepped off before the encore.

“Southern Nights” was recognizable from its piano and synth intro. The song brought out Ehrlich’s long, clear vocals, and tambourine shakes kept it all centered. The slide guitar, staccato in a minimal way, complemented the vocals.

On “Used to Be Lonely,” things slowed down and Ehrlich sang intently, eyes closed and hands clasped. Brown’s piano pieces glided over everyone and the song turned into a jam. Trumpet and piano, as well as all three guitars, spread out in the melody.

The crowd sang along with hit “No Woman,” and the band decided to do two more songs in celebration. The set ended with Ehrlich and Kakacek alone, doing a cover of “Gonna Hurry (As Slow As I Can)” by Dolly Parton.