Whitney Amplify Their Sonic Palette with String Quartet at Brooklyn Steel (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

Fresh off the release of their acclaimed new album Forever Turned Around, Whitney headed to Brooklyn Steel for a two-night stand. Despite a dreary fall rain drizzling outside, the Chicago folk-rockers brought plenty of warm sounds from their discography. Dressed to the nines in matching suits, the band even wrangled in a string quartet for additional support. Here are five things that stood out from the set:

Opener Hand Habits Set the Vibe Early

Hand Habits helped establish the feel of the show early with easygoing riffs and vocal harmonies between guitarist/vocalists Meg Duffy and Kacey Johansing on cuts like “jessica”. (Whitney would later invite Duffy back onstage for the instrumental track “Rhododendron” during their set, as well.) The band brought out Brian Schatz on saxophone towards the end of their set for some extra oomph on “pacify” and “the book on how to change part II”.

Drummer Julien Ehrlich Takes Center Stage

Set up in the center of the stage with a massive drum kit and arched overhead mic stand, Whitney drummer/vocalist Julien Ehrlich was the focal point of the performance. The concert fittingly began with just his pitch-perfect croon on “Polly” before his bandmates joined in. New track “Friend of Mine” also showcased Ehrlich’s soaring singing. And he delivered a grooving drum beat on their classic hit “No Woman.”

Guitarist Max Kakacek Makes Presence Felt

He may have been set up on the far side of stage right, but guitarist Max Kakacek also made his presence felt. He led the jam on “Follow”, and unleashed some warbled riffs with a steel slide on “Southern Nights.”

Will Miller’s Trumpet Work Shines

Similarly, Will Miller was positioned toward the back of the stage, but shined with triumphant trumpet contributions throughout the set. From the shimmering opening of “No Woman” to the resounding end to “Polly” and “Valleys (My Love)”, the brass added even more jubilant energy to the band’s wide-ranging sonic palette.

Whitney Get Honest About Their Encore

The main part of their set was coming to a close, but Ehrlich made it clear there was more to come. “I don’t like to play games,” the drummer said. “We’ll play four more. This is usually when I have to pee. We’ll take a minute break.”

The wistful “Golden Days” was dubbed “the fake closer” fittingly as the band was bathed in yellow light, showcasing how Whitney so effortlessly pair euphoric sounds with aching lyrics of heartbreak.

True to form, the band disappeared offstage for a brief moment before returning for their encore. The final two tracks, “No Woman” and “Valleys (My Love)”, proved to be a powerful showcase of what made their debut album an indie staple and why their new sounds continue dazzle. The string quartet also added dramatic heft to these songs. On the latter, Ehrlich taught the crowd the chorus, as the fans swayed with their arms side to side to bid the band farewell.

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