“Who’s into Halloween?” asks Julien Ehrlich as he sits with painted face at his drum kit looking out into the crowd on Halloween night. The audience cheers and he says, “We’re like, eh on it.” The rest of his Chicago-based band Whitney laughs with him and they bust into their next song. I couldn’t tell you what it was because I was so mesmerized by the warm stage chemistry and sweet energy, the casual confidence with which Ehrlich joked then sang then joked again. A couple songs in he stopped and put his hand to his chest and said, “You know, our hearts really go out to you guys affected by the fires out here. It’s really sad. Seriously, we’re so grateful you still made it out. Thank you.”

The Old Redwood Barn in Sonoma is located at the Gundlach Bundschu Winery in the middle of well, a vineyard. It was peaceful and dark and surreal and for any wine drinkers out there, their wine was quite nice. But the best part of this venue is the intimacy the audience shares with the band. Props to their sound person for helping the Whitney boys sound just like their album. Every song: they killed it.

Playing a mix of songs off their new Forever Turned Around and some from their debut Light Upon the Lake, the band was tighter than ever with a contagious energy. Watching Max Kakacek’s fancy finger work was one of the concert highlights of my year. Their cover of “Magnet” was amazing, Will Miller’s trumpeting nailed it every time (and his unibrow face paint was classy cute) and watching Malcom Brown play keys with such toe tappin’ gusto was a real happy maker. I still don’t know how Ehrlich manages to sing like such an angel whilst playing those drums but he does it and he does it well. If you’ve not given Forever Turned Around a listen, it’s out and about and we’re loving every minute of it. Lucky for you, they’re playing tonight at The Warfield and there are a few tickets left.

Photos by Michelle Kicherer and Audrey Tran

The Warfield
November 1, 2019
8 pm, $30-$45