(from City Paper contributor Susan Cohen):

Rilo Kiley: Jenny, You’re Much More Than Barely Alive

[image-1]I went through a Saddle Creek phase in high school and I still have a collection of t-shirts to prove it. When I was 15/16, the music and emotions of Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, and Cursive satisfied my post-pubescent angst. Rilo Kiley was prominently featured on the mix CDs I made in those days — one of the only “girl singer” bands I listened to at that time. But I grew out of it. I wear those t-shirts to bed now instead of out in public. And five years changes things. Rilo Kiley isn’t on Saddle Creek anymore. My hair got shorter, Jenny Lewis’ got longer, and we both developed a more mature sense of fashion.

[image-2]Honestly, I don’t think I would have gone to their Thursday night show at the Music Farm if (despite a regrettable snafu that almost kept me outside the whole night) I hadn’t gotten in on the press pass list. Sure, The Execution of All Things is an oft-played part of my vinyl collection, but now that they can charge $25 for tickets, they’ve gotten just too big for my britches. And when a band has a status of raging popularity like Rilo Kiley’s, one whose promo pictures display them constantly as pensive at best, it wouldn’t be unexpected for them to be total assholes. Douchebags, even. The kind of band that runs through its set with no more than a “hello” and a “thank you” to the crowd. The kind of band that doesn’t smile. The kind of band, I learned last night when Lewis greeted the crowd with a rowdy “Hey y’all” and Blake Sennett joked about humidity and Disneyland, that Rilo Kiley isn’t.

[image-3]Thank goodness. Otherwise, leaving the Music Farm that night, covered in sweat (some belonging to me and some certainly belonging to all the kids around me) would not have felt so worth it.

Lewis is undoubtedly a performer; Shelley Long taught her well. Parading around the stage while singing “Does He Love You?,” her heart breaking behind the sweet smirk on her lips, it was almost like watching some sort of Broadway triple threat (if it weren’t for the obtrusive microphone in her hand). Later, she put that mic down in the ultimate unpretentious act to sing along with the crowd to her “With Arms Outstretched.” Editorial assistant/Rilo Kiley interviewer Erica Jackson and I agree: We have girl crushes on her.

[image-4]And her fellas — Sennett, Pierre De Reeder, and Jason Boesel — were right there with her, having a blast in their button-ups. The show finished when Jenny walked off the stage at the end of the encore, leaving her bandmates, facing each other in a lit pyramid, to pivotally jam out the rest of their closing song and prove that Rilo Kiley isn’t just another version of “Jenny Lewis and …” I think it was the best part of the night. I think I should add that their lighting cues were spectacular. Thank goodness for major labels? —Susan Cohen

(photographs by Erica Jackson)

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