Live Review: White Reaper @ Forecastle Festival, Louisville KY (7/19)


I’d call White Reaper my sleeper pick heading into the festival, but at this point, the cat’s out of the bag. The Louisville band is great, and everyone knows it.

Fresh off of being signed to Chicago’s Polyvinyl Records and releasing their full-length debut, White Reaper Does It Again, the band has propelled itself into sudden success. And at their Sunday afternoon Forecastle set, plenty were in attendance to celebrate.

I love their album, and I was excited to see what all the buzz was about with the band live. It was easy to see what I’d been missing out on right away. The band has top notch energy live and it comes from every member. Sam Wilkerson, the band’s bassist, is constantly standing on top of the speakers gesturing his fret board toward the audience. Lead singer Tony Esposito screams and kicks around the stage with the attitude of 80’s Metallica (“This song’s about doing pills. It’s called ‘Pills.'”) yet sports the voice of a hellboy Brian Williams. Nick Wilkerson, Sam’s twin brother, ferociously pumps out rumbling drum rhythms with intense focus and Ryan Hater recalls the punk rock swagger of Jack Black, swinging his arms and shoulder-length hair around the stage through the garage rock like it’s “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

In case you can’t tell, you can’t say enough about this band’s personality.

They nailed their stage presence, and the song’s were performed with similar ease. They shredded mostly through highlights off of their debut like “Pills”, “Sheila” and “On Your Mind”. Maybe the word ease comes to mind because everything about the band feels very effortless – and that’s a compliment. They perform on stage without any charade, acting out just how I imagine they do in private. Yet somehow it all results in raging success.

White Reaper is such a young band and they’re already doing fun, inventive things during their shows. The grim reaper joined them on stage, a costumed friend I assume, to dance with his trident. Before their final song, he even came back out to psych up the crowd for an energetic performance of Gary Glitter’s “Rock’n’Roll (Part 2).” I’ve always thought that was an all-time hype song, so kudos.

I can’t say enough about the band. My only criticism is that I wish it could have been longer. The set clocked in at just around 45 minutes at the WFPK Stage, but based on their performance, I only assume that White Reaper will be returning to Forecastle Festival again in the future.

Check out photos from the set here, and the video below.


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