By Lily Wellen, Special to OnMilwaukee   Published Jul 09, 2017 at 3:06 AM

Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek would sit in their apartment creating tunes, in hopes they would go from roommates to band mates. One album and three months of touring later, Whitney went from being a project from their apartment to the real deal.

The group made their first stop in Milwaukee at Turner Hall back in December. They packed the house and won Milwaukee over. Now, the band was back once again, this time at the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage playing for about an hour at Summerfest, getting the stage ready for San Fermin.

According to lead vocalist and drummer Ehrlich, the group apparently had food poisoning the night before (side note: How cool is it that their lead singer is their drummer?). You don’t see that every day. Anyways, they almost had to cancel, so the crowd – filling the bleachers, with 88Nine DJ Ken Sumka saying in his introduction that people had been waiting all day for Whitney to play – was relieved that wasn’t the case. People were going crazy for them before they even started. Ehrlich mentioned he felt like a boy band up there with the way the fans reacted to their every move, even in just a sound check.

After the group finished up its soundcheck, Whitney shortly opened up its performance with "Dave’s Song." The Chicago band took sips of their Coors Light and then got to perform.

The group didn’t have big theatrics for their set. It was just them, their instruments and some lights. The lights radiated warm, soft oranges, yellows and pinks, making it really feel like summer. The music, with its melodic and chill rhythms, added to the feeling. Listening to Whitney's music makes you feel like you driving on a sunny day with the windows down.

The group worked their way through their debut album, "Light Upon the Lake," singing "No Matter Where We Go," "Polly," "Follow" and more. Every song they sang, you could feel Ehrlich’s passion. You can tell that on stage they focus on really playing the songs to perfection so that you can really see and hear what the songs mean to them. Every note Ehrlich belted out you could feel his emotion behind the song.

The whole band was pure talent. Any note they played or lyric they belted, you would just feel awe and impressed that it sounded so melodic. The sound filled the whole stage area, making no seat in the area a bad one.

All of the members were great, but the standout of the group most definitely would be Will Miller, playing the trumpet and adding some groove to any song he was featured in. As soon as people would hear him playing a note, they would cheer. People were digging every contribution he brought to the songs.

The group pretty much spent their whole hour set pounding on their instruments and jamming out. Their energy and chill set brought great energy to the audience.

Whitney made the Johnston Controls World Sound Stage a haven that helped you escape the craziness, hustle and bustle of Summerfest. People weren’t packed like sardines, and there wasn’t a lot of drunk people falling all over the place. There weren't people pushing you around as they tried to get to their spot. It was just people there to listen, dance and just genuinely enjoy the music.

The crowd was a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of the other wild, crazy crowds. People were doing the limbo, swinging around a partner in the open area, dancing on the bleachers with moves from anywhere to kick lines, finger swaying to shaking their hips. The audience was having light-hearted fun. Whitney’s peppy, feel-good music brought smiles, laughs and pure happiness to the audience, making the concert even more enjoyable.

A few times, the band brought its songs to life through some fun little commentary. Ehrlich asked, "Anyone in love out there?" and as he talked about being in love, the crowd started to hug one another or give their loved ones looks. But then – twist! – the next song, "Golden Days," is actually a break-up song, though he continued to say that it was the kind of break up where you still follow them on Instagram. These little add-ins between the songs made it more relatable for the crowd and made the songs feel more personable.

Whitney also threw in "Light Upon the Lake," with Ehrlich mentioning that they didn’t sing this one as much since it is quieter and hard to dance to. But this didn’t stop the audience from grooving. They were still waving their arms and swaying along.

The group also threw in some covers. They performed Lion’s "You’ve Got A Woman," NRBQ’s "Magnet" and even "The Golden Girls" theme song, which the crowd loved.

The group also performed a new number. Ehrlich explained that it was about depression, and it was one of many tunes coming soon. He also slipped out that they will have a tour date in Milwaukee in the next few months once again, where they will have a lot of new songs to premiere.

After playing 13 songs, they announced that it was time for their last song. The audience groaned in unison and were disappointed they couldn’t stick around and play longer.

The band closed with their biggest hit, "No Woman." The audiences voices could be heard singing along, everyone in the room was swaying their bodies and cheers happened periodically during the song.

The group kept pausing throughout the song to take it all in. They couldn’t believe that all the people were there for them. The last few lyrics were sung purely by the audience and all Ehrlich could say was: "Dang." He was in shock with how many fans they had there last night.

The band thanked the audience for coming out, and the crowd accordingly roared in applause. Summerfest loved Whitney – and Whitney left Summerfest excitedly counting down the days until their next performance in Milwaukee.


"Dave's Song"

"No Matter Where We Go" 


"Red Moon"

"You've Got A Woman" (Lion Cover) 

"Golden Days" 

"Light Upon the Lake" 

"On My Own"

"The Falls"


Untitled new song

"Golden Girls" theme song

"Magnet" (NRBQ cover) 

"No Woman"