Whitehorse, Crescent Ballroom, 11/27/12

Whitehorse @ Crescent Ballroom|11/27/12
I don't know any Whitehorse songs, but then again, I don't know any Whitehorse songs. Allow me to explain. Over the summer, my editor assigned me to cover a sludge metal band from Melbourne, Australia called Whitehorse. As the band name isn't very creative, it is shared by a folk duo in Canada (the focus of this review) as well as White Horse, a hip hop remix team and the White Horse Gospel Band from Wichita Falls, Texas. There are plenty more musical attributions to the word "Whitehorse," but those are the main ones.

I don't really listen to metal, but I had a great time at my first Whitehorse show anyway. I spoke to lead singer/growler Peter Hyde about his band name and he said the term Whitehorse "ruins Google searches," but he doesn't "give a fuck." He likes the L.A. hip hop remixers, but isn't interested in the Canadians and Taylor Swift (who wrote a song titled "White Horse") can "go fuck herself." Whitehorse has been around for eight years, Hyde added, implying they aren't going anywhere.

See Also:

(The Other Other) Whitehorse @ Yucca Tap Room

I don't understand why he's clinging on to the name. No offense, but it fucking blows, especially for a metal outfit. A white horse is something a wizard rides or a 12-year old girl dreams of. Why not a black horse? Or a dead horse?

Besides, fuck horses altogether. I once told my ex-roommate's ex-girlfriend that horses are stupid because any animal that passively lets you sit on it and tell it where to go can't be very intelligent. Animals that are generally considered smart like dogs, cats, pigs, dolphins, and even gorillas don't let you ride them. Unfortunately, this was the wrong thing to say to my ex-roommate's ex-girlfriend because it somehow became a screaming match. Why? Because she is a psychopath. In her fits of rage, she often broke mirrors, windows, chairs, and once stabbed a steak knife into the bathroom door where my ex-roommate was hiding. I was mostly joking anyway and I did read Cormac McCarthy's All The Pretty Horses recently and now have a healthy respect for horses, I guess, but still. Fuck horses.

But I'm getting way off track. The point is, I went to the folk pop country Whitehorse show at Crescent, but purposely didn't listen to any of their music beforehand so that it was as foreign and novel as when I saw the metal band and also to keep it so I don't know any Whitehorse songs and I also don't know any Whitehorse songs.

Here's what I knew about Whitehorse before this show: The duo are dating and possibly married. They are from Canada. They play folk music.

Here's what I knew after the show: Crescent Ballroom sometimes closes off half of their giant venue and hangs a giant curtain that looks exactly like the other half of the ballroom. But I was not fooled! I knew I couldn't walk over there and get delicious drinks, you tricksters!

The Other Whitehorse dress like the cutest couple on the planet, half-cowboy, half-retro '50s chic hipster. I wish I looked like an angel kissed my forehead wherever I went. Instead, I also wore my sludge metal Whitehorse t-shirt, which features a pony skull oozing with worms and centipedes, just to confuse the fuck out of everyone.

There were tables and people ordered dinner and most of the folks had white hair. I despise concerts like this. Why would I pay money to sit around? This isn't a movie or a play or something. I'd much rather dance and break bones and become exhilarated. No one seemed to be in the mood for being exhilarated.

Anyway, The Other Whitehorse opened with an acoustic duet and I thought, this is boring. But Luke (I think that's his name - I would Google it, but that would be cheating) then pulled out an electric guitar and it instantly charged me. They had plenty of interesting mics and drums and this loop machine that made their lack of other musicians feel full. It was definitely impressive.

Yet, when they both were playing their guitars, looking deep into each other's eyes, it looked like the couple was courting each other. It made me think of how romantic relationships like this work, when your passion is your job is your marriage is your whole life. I guess touring with your spouse is more convenient than random groupies. But what if you have a fight right before a show? How can you fake that sort of onstage love? Fuck me, I had a fight with my girlfriend right before attending this show. It wasn't anything important or anything, but it happens, I guess. I can't even imagine bickering in a tour bus and then facing a crowd of strangers and forcing being enamored with one another. Then I realized how this relationship works: every night of their tour, The Other Whitehorse is revisiting their vows, as they seem to be written into their songs anyway. Every night is a honeymoon night for The Other Whitehorse, spent between pristine hotel sheets and just as magic as their first time and all of this made me hate them. I'm sorry, that's my own broken humanness to this, but duh, I'm jealous. Anyone would be.

When they played the drums together, for example, it was this sickly sweet sort of festival of how well they get along and work together and never argue and it was too perfect. And worst of all, it sounded wonderful because The Other Whitehorse are both talented musicians. Luke is excellent at guitar, especially his bluesy solos that were scattered between songs. It was elaborate and detailed and so much more than some lame acoustic nothing-but-Spanish-guitars thing I was half-expecting.

The only (admittedly lame) thing to complain about was there was far too much storytelling. I can agree to some banter, but when you're interrupting songs and then starting them over, as The Other Whitehorse did at least twice, it gets a little old, especially when the banter is about cats and running marathons and whatever else.

In the end, I'm just a bitter, aging critic and I fit in at an acoustic coffeeshop rock rip-off as well as I do wearing glasses and trying to mosh at a sludge metal show. My scene is truly some IDM performance where I get fucked up on designer drugs and can't move the next day. But Whitehorse is a great band and their fans aren't wrong and I'm OK with that. The same goes for my girlfriend, who I maybe sometimes sort of fight with, but I still love her and I don't want it to be some sort of candy-coated love fest with endless honeymoons and all that. I just want what I have, something authentic and true and I'm grateful for it.

P.S Maybe to settle the whole name thing, the two bands should have a knife fight. Or, The Other Whitehorse, as they seem much younger, could change their name. Suggestions: Thesaurus, I Don't Know How To Google, Cute As A Button, Whitehorse II: The Revenge.

I wanted to tell the Sludge Whitehorse to rename themselves Puppy Bacon, Cervical Tumor, Septic Worms or Salmonella. They didn't take my suggestions and all of these names are still available, so get cracking! Someone should name their band at least one of these.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Whitehorse, Lonna Kelly at Crescent Ballroom The Crowd: A few white haired folks that may or may not be Canadian, but they certainly gave me the impression they had interesting conversations to share with me about granola and feminism. Overheard: "I woke up in the tub, my pants around my ankles and I was caked in shit." (I swear I heard this. I fucking swear. And I hope he reads this and learns a lesson.) Best T-Shirt: Mine. This isn't ego, this is just a fact. Plus, I had zero competition. Let me remind you, it was a white horse skull with centipedes crawling out the eyes. Fucking brutal. Random Notebook Dump: Dear Crescent: The sangria you made tasted like Christmas. Love, my liver.

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah