Although I have seen the name White Reaper being thrown around for years, I never really had a compelling reason to check out the Louisville rockers until I heard their hit single “Might Be Right” several months back. Even then, however, it was not until the release of their third LP in October that I finally felt the need to take the plunge. I was not entirely sure what to expect, but I ended up being completely blown away with the cohesiveness and accessibility of You Deserve Love, so much that it now ranks as one of my favorite releases all year. There is just this overall sense of enjoyability throughout the record’s brief half-hour lifespan, so when the opportunity to see them in Indianapolis presented itself last Friday, I felt obligated to make sure I was present.
Coming one night removed from a memorable performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the Kentucky-based quintet’s penultimate show of the decade took place at my favorite venue in town, the Hi-Fi. The band’s intense yet engaging stage presence was immediately apparent, not just to me, but to countless other concertgoers as well. The “world’s best American band” roared through a wide selection of tunes from their catalog, including past and present hits along with some of their best deeper cuts.
For someone who went back through their discography after the fact, I must say that I still think that You Deserve Love is not only their latest but also their greatest, so I was slightly disappointed when I missed out on cuts like “Saturday” and “Eggplant.” At the very least, though, we all got to hear the mid-tempo jam “Might Be Right” and the album’s driving closer and title track, in addition to older staples like “The World’s Best American Band” and “Daisies.”
One thing I noticed about the demeanor throughout White Reaper’s set was the fact that no one in the room could stop smiling, myself included. The Louisville natives were having all sorts of fun up on stage, bringing an energy that proved to be contagious, as everyone was grinning from ear to ear. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the evening, however, came during their encore when the band performed a brief rendition of The Killers’ classic “Mr. Brightside.” Whenever I am asked to describe White Reaper’s sound to a newcomer, I mention You Deserve Love and how it strikes me as a garage / punk update of The Killers, so it felt rather poetic when the rock-and-roll five piece paid homage to those synth-heavy alt-rockers that ruled the 2000s. It was a fitting end to a fantastic evening that was not only the penultimate show of 2019 for White Reaper, but for me as well.