Whitney brings good vibes all night long to Westcott

Whitney brings good vibes all night long to Westcott

The indie-folk band played a soothing set following an electrifying performance from all-female Japanese rock group Chai.
Published: February 13, 2020
Whitney concert at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse - Feb. 12, 2020
Whitney's set included songs from both their latest LP, Forever Turned Around, and their debut album, Light Upon the Lake.

The Westcott Theater became home to a punk rock and indie-folk fusion Wednesday night. Chicago-based band Whitney dazed fans with their latest hits, sharing the stage with their hyper-energetic opening band, Chai, at the Westcott Theater. This concert marks Whitney’s first Syracuse show since their performance at SU’s Goldstein Auditorium two years ago.

The lights dimmed with subtle green hues from the stage, making it a perfect photo opportunity for fans as they awaited calmly for figures to occupy the four microphones and drum set that stood still. Once Chai took the stage, the tranquil crowd soon stirred into a large sea of dancers, head shakers, a capella singers and a glowing hula hooper.

Rocking pigtails and vibrant red tops, members Mana, Kana, Yuuki, and Yuna energized fans with their pumping tunes, including “Choose Go!,” “Fashionista,” “Future,” and more from their latest album, PUNK. The flashing lights and lively hits made the crowd grow closer to the stage front, and soon dozens of fists were up in the air. The petite group tore it up for their hour-long set with impressive guitar riffs, high-pitched vocals and a closing drum solo that left everyone wanting more.

Chai concert at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse - Feb. 12, 2020

Chai performs an interesting hip-hop remix in the middle of their set, complete with helmet lights.

Chai concert at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse - Feb. 12, 2020

Chai's set proved to be a stark contrast to that of Whitney's. The all-female band from Japan hyped up the crowd with their energetic stage presence and impressive musicianship.

The lights dimmed low again, and after a 30-minute intermission, the floor is polished from beer and water spills. The anticipation grew fonder, and once 9:30 hit, Whitney came out to start the show. One by one, Max Kakacek, Julien Ehrlich, Josiah Marshall, Will Miller, Malcolm Brown, Print Chouteau, and Ziyad Asrar took their place on the drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, and trumpet. The crowd tightened up against the barricade, and the slippery floors didn’t stop one fan from falling and sliding to her place in the crowd.

Couples held themselves tight and friends smiled back at each other as lead singing drummer Julien Ehrlich, opened the night with “Polly,” off of their 2016 album Light Upon The Lake. Soon after, heads among the crowd started vigorously shaking up and down as the group picked up the beat with spirited tunes from the album, including “No Matter Where We Go,” and “Giving Up,” from their latest 2019 album, Forever Turned Around.

After 10 minutes of rock and subtle fan-favorites, Ehrlich stopped in between sets to converse with the crowd, asking why some fans look up setlists before shows and sharing about the places the band has explored in Syracuse.

“We went to your brand new fitness center today,” he said.”We played basketball for an hour. It’s a great place, happy for y’all.”

The serenity lingered throughout the night, and Whitney made the crowd feel like part of the band, encouraging them to come together for playful vocal runs and sing-alongs during songs like “Forever Turned Around,” and “No Woman.”

Whitney concert at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse - Feb. 12, 2020
Whitney frontman and drummer Julien Ehrlich showcases his unique vocals while keeping a steady beat for the band.

Ehrlich made it clear towards the end of the night how he felt about encores. “I don’t like to play games when it comes to the encore,” he said. “We have about four to five more songs left.”

The stage goes dark, and although fans knew the band was coming back out, many still shouted “encore,” showing how ready they were to take in the last few moments of the night.

The lights came back up and a light cheer arose throughout the room. As the crowd moved in closer, drinks and hands went up one last time, ready to take in the last few moments of the night.

Whitney eased into the end of the night with songs that included, “Southern Nights” and “Used To Be Lonely.” During their final song, a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Gonna Hurry,” fans slowly swayed side to side, keeping their eyes looking up across the stage.

The lights went down and the night was over. The crowd turned into small groups of people shuffling out the theater, some leaving with old, and even new friends.

Whitney concert at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse - Feb. 12, 2020
Whitney guitarist Max Kakacek rips through one of his many heartfelt solos during the night.
Avatar for Claribel Rivas

is a digital producer for The NewsHouse.

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Avatar for Claribel Rivas

is the entertainment lead producer for The NewsHouse.