rilosmall.jpg

Rilo Kiley
September 8, 2007
Showbox at the Market

Better Than: Fleetwood Mac

Rilo Kiley singer-guitarist Blake Sennett 's got to be the most confident




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Last Night: Rilo Kiley at the Showbox

Way more adventurous.

rilosmall.jpg

Rilo Kiley
September 8, 2007
Showbox at the Market

Better Than: Fleetwood Mac

Rilo Kiley singer-guitarist Blake Sennett's got to be the most confident man in all of indie rock.  Not only is his sex-symbol bandmate and ex-girlfriend Jenny Lewis dating Rilo tour opener Johnathan Rice, the way she was feted by the adoring, sold-out crowd at the Showbox threatened to turn the proceedings into something like a Lewis solo show, with the rest of the sextet relegated to backing band. But despite all the "I love you Jenny!!!"s and repeated calls for Lewis solo material, Sennett was not to be ignored, prowling the stage, tearing off terrific solo after solo, singing passionately, and generally proving himself Lewis's musical equal.

Still, Lewis rightfully commands plenty of attention for her magnetic stage presence, thrillingly soulful voice, and multi-instrument skills -- during the band's 90-minute, 19-song set she played guitar, bass, keyboards, and cowbell.  And her glittery mini-dress and cascading red hair didn't hurt the cause, either.  Though her relationship with Sennett has been described as Fleetwood Mac-like, there didn't appear to be much tension between the two, as they frequently merged at center stage for extended jams and a couple of turns as an acoustic duo, as the rest of the band watched from offstage.

But when the six were together and rocking through the groove-heavy, New Wave-ish material found on Rilo's new Under the Blacklight ("Shake Your Moneymaker," "Silver Lining," "Dreamworld") -- or digging into the country-dusted indie-pop of older recordings ("It's a Hit," "Paint's Peeling," "Wires and Waves") -- to say they were an incredibly tight, super-pro outfit is an extreme understatement.  Aided by two utility players handling guitar, percussion, keyboards, and vocals, the band thickened its arrangements without sacrificing spirit or intimacy.  On more than one occasion, Lewis hopped off the stage and crooned in the midst of fans grinning, singing along, and clutching at her (and handing her flowers); Sennett, meanwhile, hammed it up with the rest of the band, climbing on the drum riser, kneeling in front of his amp, and engaging in playful guitar "duels" (a couple of times, he cozied up to Rilo's backup female guitarist in a way that transmitted much more heat than any of his physical interactions with Lewis).

And the elegant stage yellows, greens, and reds; sporadic strobes; large balloons filled with confetti pushed into the crowd (that seemed to startle Lewis once or twice when they popped); glow-in-the-dark outfits; and the massive applause after every number -- which reached deafening proportions when Rilo was called back for a two-song encore -- made the whole shebang feel like a Paramount- or WaMu Theater-sized gig.  Which is where Rilo Kiley will probably be playing the next time they roll through town, provided Lewis doesn't hang it up in favor of her solo career.

Reporter's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I'm not a huge fan of the new Rilo album -- I like More Adventurous more -- but the new songs sounded dynamite live.
Random Detail: Johnathan Rice, who turned in a so-so solo accoustic performance at the Showbox a few months ago, opening for Ben Gibbard (Jenny Lewis guested at that show as well), was much better this time around, primarily because he brought a three-piece backing band along with him.  His guitarist was phenomenal, and the quartet really made Rice's songs catch fire.  He's definitely worth catching as a headliner, provided he comes around again with the full-band configuration.

 
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