While my favorite music tends to lean towards soul/hip-hop/jazz, Light Upon the Lake was one of my favorite releases of 2016. I’ll never forget the first time I heard, “No Woman,” driving down PCH at night with some of my favorite people. There’s something beautifully nostalgic about that track, and Whitney’s sound encapsulates that feeling throughout all of their work. That being said, their music usually pretty mellow, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the live show.
Off the top, this was easily one of the whitest concerts I’ve ever been to, but I’m not mad at that! The band was incredibly dynamic and put on a really wild show I wasn’t expecting. This was the first time I’ve ever seen a band put the drums center-stage, with the rest of the band supporting them. I often catch myself watching the drummer during most shows I go to, so I thought that was really rad. (Also quick props to Julien for both drumming and doing lead vocals – it’s pretty rare to get to see that). I had seen Isaiah Rashad at the same venue the week before, and it was an interesting contrast to see the space much more mellowed out (though I should note it was 4/20 and that probably had something to do with it to be honest).
The evening had many more highlights. Some high school kid even jumped on stage and prom-posed (you read that right) to his girlfriend in the middle of the set. It was horrible and cringe-worthy, but the band was really mellow about it which was cool of them (and she said yes!! duh!! and then she climbed on stage too!! people are wack!! but also take note: apparently El Rey has little to no security).
It always bums me out when you see a band live, and they just try to recreate their album as-is, without adding anything new to it. I think the best shows are the ones where you get to learn more about the artists themselves while getting a glimpse of their talent, outside of the record you already know and love. To me, Whitney exemplified that notion. Their live set added a lot of much needed context to their existing discography, and made me appreciate the music in an entirely new way. Julien and Josiah (the band’s bassist) made out in the middle of one of their interludes. Didn’t see that coming, but it was really sweet! The band is incredibly talented, and they did a lot of jazz-inspired hand-offs, riffing off of each other, rather than just playing through their tracks as they do on the album. The horns were especially prominent in the live show, which you don’t get to hear as much in the studio recordings. It was really rad getting to have that experience with them. 10/10 would recommend.
S/o to Chicago creatives! Love to see & support.
ZOE CITTERMAN, DJ