White Rhino
Thurs Feb 7 at the Rainbow.

The Stranger's photographer gets goofy when White Rhino begins performing its college-band reggae music. It takes her back to the glory days. The room is full of dancing hippies, and the band is amiable if uninspiring to my humble ears. "It's just like college!" she shouts. Exactly. That's why I dropped out.

But I'm just a crank. Here's what's great about White Rhino: The players are in love with being onstage and creating music. Lead guitarist Chris Jones is a slight and groovy guy with a charmingly arrogant swagger to his performance. Drummer Paul Huppler is smiling and spot-on, and bassist T. J. Berry is right there with him.

You may ask: Is everyone in this band white? I don't believe it matters one way or the other. But yes, they are all white.

The hippies are inspiring me to be a kinder, gentler, more spiritual critic, but the room fucking reeks of incense. The band's songs are simple, which is a good thing. The players grab two or three ideas for each song, and stick with them. Elements of funk, ska, rock, and even a bit of drum and bass are thrown in, but mostly White Rhino is reggae.

As the show progresses, two other players--Drew Noble, a regular band member, and Chris Poage, a guest--take the stage. Noble plays bass and Berry moves to guitar. Poage plays sax. Poage is insane. He is perhaps the hammiest performer I have seen in months, doing silly dances and chanting random island-style vocals into the microphone.

At this point, the band's sound grows more eclectic and layered. The players switch instruments frequently, and everything centers on Jones' guitar playing. There are highs and lows, as with any performance. For me, the lows are frequent. For The Stranger's happy photographer, the highs are abundant.

I guess it all depends upon your tolerance for incense.

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