your time was running out

dear friends,

contributor mary & I went to the rilo kiley show at webster hall last night. the packed house responded with rabid fervor to the comely miss lewis & co.'s every move. but how did they get this audience? on their recordings, some of the songs have an overly glossy generic country feel, prairie ballads for the wry, like the song more adventurous off of the album by the same name. is this neo-alterna-country for people who fear the word country? & why are there so many of them? I have no clue (I just think frontwoman jenny lewis' voice is purty like daisies & stuff) 'cept judging from the fevered mass sing-along that accompanied every song (seriously, every selection came with that sing-along hum), the home draw isn't the sound so much as the message, namely the songs' sighing, philosophical, storytelling bent. live, however, the kileys did all they could to bring it up a few notches. what they call "raising the stakes" in actor parlance. the band does come from hollywood after all no matter what sleepy burg they reside in nowadays.

but back to the live show... firstly, there is the potent weapon that is lewis. natural & sexy in a completely approachable way, though she is by no means average looking (what is her secret? pilates? the blood of virgins?), she sings of sex & politics with a warm warble & always takes intimate staring aim at her audience. she never stops scanning the crowd with her eyes as she stands & plays her guitar/keyboards/bass/harmonica
/tambourine arsenal (I kept thinking about a line from the bbc adaptation of jane austen's pride & prejudice: "young ladies these days are SO accomplished!"), giving her rapturous fans the impression that she stared them in the eyes at least once. they would reply by providing the requisite wooh! soundtrack to her every gesture. jenny counted off! WOO! jenny pointed! WOO! jenny bent down becuz she's "feelin' it"? WOOOOO! & so on. this stuff works people! after the show I babbled to contributor mary about the importance of engagement at rock shows & how the very simple act of looking directly at your crowd or (in the case of blinding lights) pretending to look at your crowd can go so very far in making people respond to you. so simple. so frequently avoided.

secondly, her co-leader/band president blake sennett was equally at home playing the crowd. a small, slender chap with a floppy fringe clad in the bold sartorial choice of suit vest, he sang in a lovely lyrical voice & provided two of the night's highlights: a neo-ragtime number complete with a special guest trumpet player & a lonely hearts ballad called ripchord* which was elevated to full-on cry of longing when lewis joined him at the mic & the two harmonized forehead to forehead in front of a starry sky backdrop. they presented a simultaneously swooning/touching picture of unity that thrilled my inner soap opera inclinations. what of it? I like intimations of drama & history. like I've said before, I am an adolescent when it comes to what I'm passionate about. & I hope that never changes.

my other favorite performances were definitely the more straight-ahead rock numbers like love & war & portions for foxes from more adventurous. these songs give the kileys a chance to step up & fully unleash their inner bedroom rock star fury.

simply stated, a good show, I whole-heartedly recommend their live act to anyone on the fence. I root for these kids & want to see them keep going in that shameless & sugary pop/rock direction. I mean it band, PLEASE keep going towards the light. I am in desperate need of working female rock stars & what with miss love being muzzled by her aggression & the new rise of the machines aka these pre-fabricated "rock" singers like avril & ashley & (gulp) lindsay lohan, I REALLY need to believe. know what I mean?

love, d

* after some aural research, it turns out that wistful ballad was NOT called ripchord (that's another sennett sung number). I have no idea what it was called which stinks 'cause I really dug it. anyone out there who's familiar with this artist & that night's set, holla back.


Blogger jess said...

Definitely know what you mean and I completely agree. I like everything I've heard from Rilo Kiley, just don't know them as much as I'd like to. I'm glad to hear that they're as engaging on stage as I thought they would be. I've admired Jenny Lewis ever since she was 'the' girl in The Wizard starring my schoolgirl crush boy, Fred Savage.
As for really looking at the audience, I try my best to do just that when I play. I've always felt that that connection is important.

12:49 AM, May 29, 2005  
Blogger d said...

the wizard? I was just aware of the camp beverly hills connection (though I missed that one - I have a shelley long aversion).

10:18 AM, May 31, 2005  
Blogger Marta said...

she was (is) an actress and was in The Wizard? funny! i too will jump on the girl in band band wagon waggin my tail about the eye contact and i need to check out RK live! nice Jane Austen reference.

11:38 AM, May 31, 2005  
Blogger d said...

actually martita, I'm way lowbrow. it was a jane austen MOVIE reference. though I'm sure someone says it in the book, I'll have to go back & check it's been a while since I read p&p. I'm lame-o.

12:22 PM, May 31, 2005  
Blogger Marta said...

talking to me like my ole nana will get me to lick yr face any ole day and i appreciate everything you do to appear unassuming! i heart the A&E version of P&P and i've read the book many a time but only after i saw that old PBS version in the 70's as a chillin. now don't i sound unassuming? i look forward to hearing your take on Bridget Jone's Diary movie and book version's take on P& P in person! mwha!

1:46 PM, May 31, 2005  
Blogger d said...

dude! I'm all about the totally RANDOM wet white ruffly shirted darcy dip. I think I played it for everyone I knew like a trillion times! this is why I need to start the movie sister site to soft communication. currently I'm stuck on a name... when I decide, there will be a whole pride & prejudice/bridget jones exploration!

1:55 PM, May 31, 2005  
Blogger Marta said...

how about "soft bowel moviemoments"? sorry couldn't resist. i'll shut up now

2:27 PM, May 31, 2005  
Blogger d said...

that's DISGUSTING! (snickers to self like a 5 year old)

I think it's gonna be midnight screening. which sounds humorless but I'm sure in no time will be filled with irreverent nonsense.

2:33 PM, May 31, 2005  

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