Live Music Review: Whitney at The Bodega

Monday 14 November 2016
reading time: min, words

When American indie/garage rock band Smith Westerns broke up in 2014, guitarist Max Kakacek and drummer Julien Ehrlich formed Whitney. Their debut album – a collection of beautiful west-coast, end-of-summer, washed-out colour seventies rock – was released earlier this year. Now, their UK tour brings them to a sold-out Bodega...


First up is the support act, Julia Jacklin, all the way from Australia. She has that country-tinged indie sound popularised by Matthew E White and heard on the recent Slow Club album, One Day All Of This Won't Matter Anymore. While not being full-blown country, you could probably still imagine lyrics such as "I cost more than you earn" going down well in Nashville.

Between songs, Julia talks about the last time her band played The Bodega and only five people turned up. One of them had driven for two hours to hear the song Pool Party but they didn't get to play it because the band had been stuck in traffic and so got their set cut off early.

This time they do get to play it, and it's a set highlight, along with the final song (and title track from the album) Don't Let The Kids Win. With Julia singing lead and playing guitar and her drummer on backing vocals, it was a nice way to end their set.

Then it's time for the main event. The first thing that impresses is the fact that Whitney manage to fit six people on The Bodega stage. Julien, who sings lead vocals and drums, comes onto the stage wearing a hoodie, giving him the look of Jesse from Breaking Bad.

After opening with Dave's Song, Julien swigs from a wine bottle, which he continues to do throughout the show. He tells the audience that despite the fact he and Max have been playing together for six years, this is their first time in Nottingham.

Live, the band play loose enough to allow the subtlety in the music to breathe, but tight enough not to look like a bunch of sloppy amateurs. They're also a bit funkier than they are on the album – you could imagine Shuggie Otis playing guitar in this band.

Light Upon The Lake isn't the longest album and even the instrumental gets a run out. Bob Dylan's Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You also gets covered, although Whitney make it sound like a celebration whereas the original sounds a little bit threatening.

Prior to playing Golden Days, Julien asks the audience to put their hand up if they're in love. There's a pretty poor showing from Nottingham and a couple of uncomfortable glances from those there with their significant other.

On My Own is described as a reggae love song before Follow is introduced as the ‘last’ song, Julien mocking the ridiculous tradition of leaving the stage for two minutes prior to the encore.

The promised encore does arrive with the album's title track Light Upon The Lake. We then get Magnet an NRBQ cover before the set close with the awesome No Woman. They really extend the pre-chorus pregnant pauses and it sounds incredible.

Whitney and Julia Jacklin performed at The Bodega on Friday 4 November 2016

The Bodega website

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