Friday, August 04, 2006

I rode the Whale and I am here to say it was incredible.

Last night, we had the pleasure of having Merge freshmen, the mighty White Whale in town. Though many Mergers (and fans) had the opportunity to see them at SXSW, this was my first stampede (to borrow a phrase from the inimitable Towne Dandies) and after working with them on the album artwork for a couple months, I was eager to sample the product live and amplified. Let me tell you up front, kind listener, these fellas brought it.

Most of our bands report that playing in the Triangle feels like a hometown show. Of course, they are surrounded by the Merge family—which extends well beyond the dozen or so of us in the office—and all of the fabulous fans that this little patch of Carolina seems to breed. Within moments of arriving, they were asking after friends they have met here or elsewhere and heading toward the OCSC for icy cold beers, as if they did so every night.

The culture here is generous in supporting bands and turning out for shows, to be sure, but they are also a critical lot, especially toward a band few have seen play. It was significant, then, to witness eyes open wider, positions shift forward, and chatter cease at the Local 506 as White Whale launched into a set so full of energy, confidence, and awesomeness. There was nodding and smiling and people looking at each other with raised eyebrows and an expression that says, "Hot dog!"

While I have been digging the record ever since I first heard it, this is definitely one of those bands for whom the live performance enriches one's reception of the record in immeasurable ways. Do not, I repeat do not, miss White Whale on tour this Fall. I'm smitten.



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