It’s a good thing former child actors Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett managed to break out of the hell that captured the likes of Fred Savage and Jonathan Lipnicki. Otherwise, Chicagoans tonight would be stuck with empty plans and I wouldn’t have a pinup to salivate to each and every morning. Rilo Kiley returned to The Riv, their second time in under a year, and although things were similar, it was still one hell of a show.
Nik Freitas opened the show with some predictable amalgamation of indie pop and folk, owing much of his sound to the back catalog of Bob Dylan (as a friend and I agreed). Although he shared the stage with a drummer and a bassist, Freitas exemplified a very modest musician, clutching his guitar as if he were going to lose the crowd at any moment. His worst fears never came true and the many piling in, waiting anxiously for Lewis & Co, treated the trio with the utmost respect.
Delaware rockers, The Spinto Band (to the right), offered some power pop. In what was nothing but a cohesive tight set, the seven member band dove head straight into a thirty minute collection of similar songs. About ten minutes in, things started to tire, that is until they closed with “Oh Mandy”, which oddly enough sounds like “Portions for Foxes.” Is that too much of a coincidence?
Set up took longer than expected, but when lights fell, the nearly sold out audience ripped each others lungs out. Needless to say, Rilo Kiley was amongst fans. As if to nip at all the naysayers, the band slapped out three songs from Under the Blacklight: the unlikely opener “Close Call”, the incredibly sexy “Moneymaker”, and the timeless epic “Dreamworld.” Regardless of the reviews, it was clear the audience dug the new material, which is actually almost a year old now.
Curling those lips and hidden under auburn bangs, Lewis prowled the stage in her shorts and stockings, as if to taunt the hundreds of fans reaching out for their favorite indie queen. For her sixth straight performance in a row (with two more Sunday and Monday), she kicked up quite the energy. For an hour and a half, Jason Boesel beat the shit out the drums nonstop, while Blake Sennett and Pierre de Reeder experimented with the half a dozen instruments available. This band was alive.
It’s fascinating to see where they’ve evolved. Three years ago, this was a band juggling sounds of folk and alternative, with their set lists culling mostly from The Execution of All Things and More Adventurous, which always seemed more juxtaposed than cohesive. Now everything is a perfect blend. Call it mainstream, if you will, but this is a show far more accessible (and enjoyable) than before. There’s the 70’s gala of “Breakin’ Up”, the vivid yet morose acoustics of “Absence of God”, the sunny melodic in “Ripchord”, and the bluesy flare in “I Never.” Hell, they even threw out mammoth sized balloons, lined with silver confetti, for the aptly titled song, “Silver Lining.” It was entertaining watching them pop over the jubilant crowd.
Although “With Arms Outstretched” might draw Fleetwood Mac comparisons, the acoustic duet with Sennett and Lewis was very much welcomed. Not to mention, it made the encore that much more exciting. When the four of them attended to the backstage after finishing up with “A Better Son/Daughter”, they returned with a rollicking two punch comeback of “Portions for Foxes” and the tasty closer “Spectacular View.” The latter ending with Lewis leaving the three band members to rock out for minutes after the song had officially ended. Genius.
Slowly and surely every hipsters worst dream is coming true. Rilo Kiley is within reach of mainstream appeal, if they haven’t already achieved that. Catch ’em now in these intimate settings before they’re too hard to reach.
Set List: (I might be off on some…)
1. Close Call
4. Capturing Moods
5. Breakin’ Up
6. Does He Love You?
8. Absence of God
9. With Arms Outstretched
10. Hait to Whatever You Found in the Sunlight That Surrounds You
11. It’s a Hit
12. Silver Lining
13. I Never
14. A Better Son/Daughter
15. Portions for Foxes / Spectacular Views