When: Wed., Oct. 5 2016
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5
A few months back, I drove home to Columbia, South Carolina, for a friend's birthday party at a large colonial-style house. The back porch opened up to a short wooden pier that overlooks a small pond filled with fish and turtles. It was a quiet get-together at the beginning of the summer, friends and family hanging out, sweating, drinking, shooting the shit. As afternoon bled into evening, the host put on a record he was particularly excited about: Whitney's Light Upon the Lake. The horn-laden intro of "No Woman" hit just as the sun was going down; shot through with strings, the song's bucolic chorus drifted into the evening, into the trees, and rested in the thick air above the pond. If there were a better song for the moment, I cannot think of it.
Summer's gone now, but Whitney is still marked with that casual, estival insouciance. Born out of a series of laid-back, early-morning songwriting sessions between guitarist Max Kakacek (Smith Westerns} and singing drummer Julien Ehrlich (Unknown Mortal Orchestra) during one of Chicago's harshest winters, Whitney nonetheless evokes the endless-summer vibes of California: The Band's hideout in Malibu, Neil Young's Topanga Canyon; the Dead's San Francisco. Whitney's carefree indie folk is dulcet and inviting.
Light Upon the Lake is music for waterfront gatherings, for late-night cruising, for casual make-outs. It's not so much saturated in nostalgia, though it is, for the fuzzy heyday of the Laurel Canyon scene, for skipping high school to get stoned. Rather, it simply sounds timeless, treading in clever arrangements and thorny emotions. "I wanna take you out," Ehrlich sings on "No Matter Where We Go." "I wanna drive around/With you with the windows down." And, man, do you ever want to go with him. Elsewhere, Ehrlich sings of searching for golden days, his voice abetted by a subtle ripple of something that sounds like hope. And, man, do you want him to find them. —Patrick Wall
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