Rilo Kiley at The Wiltern
The doors opened about 20 minutes late, but the show started right on time. The Brunettes, a winsome group from New Zealand, started the night off. Their sound is very much in a bubbly 60s pop/bachelor's lounge mode. Lots of handclapping and sha-la-las can't be a bad thing. Still, it took them a couple songs to win me over. Lead singer/guitarist Jonathan added a bit of bitter to his bandmates' sweet attitude. Lead singer/keyboardist Heather told us they had never been in Los Angeles before and they were so happy to be here. Harry said how excited they were to be so close to where Captain Beefheart was from. Jonathan said he was going to give away a bunch of stuff to the best dancers after "Mars Loves Venus" then didn't. They had showed us some bags with CDs and said they had a lot of "junk" left over since it was the end of the tour. After the song he said he wasn't feeling inspired to give stuff away so he'd just throw his guitar pick at random and he hoped no one was hurt. Then they played another song. I didn't see whether any stuff was given away after that song. True that not a lot of people danced, but some did, and the guy just looked like a jerk. Maybe he's going through something... during the last song of the night, when all the bands were singing together, he walked offstage early on, and did not return.
They played a pretty song about extraterrestrials falling in love that Jonathan told us was the theme for a TV pilot for New Zealand television, but it was rejected. It was likely an unusual show, possibly featuring very long credits. Maybe its rejection is what has him feeling down.
I quite liked a few of the songs. Heather has a beautiful voice. Jonathan was also very good, mood aside. To mark a reference to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in their last song, the band donned Mary-Kate and Ashley masks (as did several familiar-looking visitors). And the band played on. It's a gimmick, and an interesting spectacle, though not terribly creative.
.mp3: The Brunettes - These Things Take Time (album version; You Send It link)
The second opening act was Feist. Her first song was odd, with an awful dissonance between her normal-sounding voice and her incredibly loud and screechy guitar. They seemed to belong in different songs, and I didn't want to hear at least one of them. The second song didn't start off much more promising. I went to purchase some official band merchandise to proclaim my fondness for Rilo Kiley to the public. Many others had the same idea, and I missed most of Feist (though I was told I didn't miss much). She sounded good momentarily upon my return, and then started yelling horrible ba-ba-bip (or something like that) sounds into the mike. Earlier in the song, she had encouraged the audience to make the same sound and told them they would be rewarded. Feist lies.
Also, apparently while I was away she used an audience member's cellphone to call her father in Canada and wish him a Happy Father's Day and did not offer to reimburse him for the call. Feist lies and is a cheapskate.
Nada Surf wouldn't have hurt my ears or stolen money from some innocent American. I'm just sayin'.
Rilo Kiley was amazing. They began with the standard opener for this tour, "It's a Hit". The highlight for me was the second song, "Hail to Whatever You Found In the Sunlight That Surrounds You." Absolutely amazing. Transcendent. I've never seen Rilo play anything with quite as much passion.
Another treat for me, and definitely a crowd-pleaser as well: "The Execution of All Things". Rilo played a lot of older songs, such as "Pictures of Success", "Wires and Waves", and "The Good That Won't Come Out". They don't play those songs often, and they're wonderful. Everyone sounded great throughout the show.
A weird moment came when Blake followed a shout-out to some band members' fathers in the crowd (and a shout out to Pierre himself, because he's a dad) by playing Ripchord. It's about Elliot Smith's death, and includes the line "your daddy always fails," and is otherwise of course not exactly cheerful. The rest of the band sat next to each other in front of the drum kit, and swayed a bit during the song until toward the end when they started singing back-up and playing tambourine and making it into some sort of cheerful oddity. How was this a tribute to Elliot Smith? Or to dads?
It would be rare to love every song during any concert. I don't care for I Never; it feels manufactured and artificial to me. I find Pull Me In Tighter one of the weakest Rilo songs, lyrically and musically. The guys' stage antics livened it up a bit, but that song is no friend of Rilo's. It manages to make Jenny Lewis' voice sound briefly unpleasant (during the repetitious "I will survive" bits), no mean feat. I have to reach deep to complain, though. It was a pretty wonderful concert, and Jenny's voice was beautiful. To steal an observation from a first-time Rilo concert-attendee, "She sounds as good as she does on the CDs." I agreed with him, and added, "If not better." I realized I had taken Jenny's voice a bit for granted, though. She seems to get a bit nervous during some TV appearances and not sound her best, or the audio has been bad. Yet she seems incapable of delivering a less than stellar concert performance (I just don't like the way that damn "Pull Me In Tighter" is supposed to sound).
It's a Hit
Hail to Whatever You Found In the Sunlight That Surrounds You
Portions for Foxes
Pull Me In Tighter
With Arms Outstretched (with crowd sing-a-long at the end)
The Execution of All Things
Wires And Waves
Love And War (11/11/46)
The Good That Won't Come Out
Pictures of Success
Does He Love You?/Go Ahead Jam (Jenny seemed to spontaneously add about four lines from Go Ahead toward the end of the jam at the end of Does He Love You? but was barely audible for some of them)
Spectacular Views (with the house lights off and everyone's cellphones on)
Lost in Your Eyes (with Deborah Gibson) -- Jenny said they were going to do a song with "our friend Deborah." A blond woman walked onstage and sat at the keyboard facing the audience. Jenny took a place at the less prominent keyboard and faced away from the audience, letting Deborah have the spotlight. She started singing, and the crowd recognized the song, and then her. She said, "I know, it's random for me too." She soon moved away from the keyboard and walked around the stage. She was good, and it was a fun moment. Her performance shouldn't overshadow everything that preceded it though.
Let My Love Open the Door (with all the bands, minus Jonathan from The Brunettes after the beginning. Deborah Gibson played tambourine. Blake played ukulele).
Everyone in the band seemed to be in a great mood and have a ton of energy. They gave their hometown an awesome show.
MP3 Rilo Kiley - Pictures of Success (album version, from Take Offs and Landings, which I highly recommend, and the same is true for Rilo Kiley's other albums).