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Rilo Kiley Live at the Warfield

 
Rilo Kiley opened the North American tour in support of their latest album, Under the Blacklight, at the Warfield in San Francisco on Thursday. The enthusiastic sold out crowd seemed ready to love whatever front woman Jenny Lewis would dish out before the first chord was even strummed. It's a wonder the band even had time to crank out an album this year with most of its members actively making music with other projects. Lewis enjoyed success with her 2006 solo album, Rabbit Fur Coat, while guitarist/vocalist Blake Sennett and drummer Jason Boesel also released an album last year with their other band The Elected. Lewis has also kept up her guest vocal chops as she did with The Postal Service in 2004, this year lending her honey-sweet voice to a track called "Roll On" with Jimmy Taborello's latest endeavor Dntel on the 2007 release, Dumb Luck.

Rilo Kiley's hour and 15 minute set at the Warfield included plenty of old favorites mixed in with new tracks from their August 21st release Under the Blacklight. This new album seems to allude to many musical genres gone by, and the timeless setting of the Warfield in San Francisco was quite possibly a perfect match. With a glittering backdrop unfurled on stage to start the show, Lewis appeared very classic rocker-esque decked out in a glittery gold mini-dress and wielding her electric guitar. They opened the night with "It's a Hit" off their 2004 release More Adventurous. The first half hour of the show was a mix of tracks of that album with several new tracks in the mix including their bold new disco Stones-style single, "Moneymaker", which always seems to make me feel a little dirty, but in a good way. "Under the Blacklight" flirts with many musical genres, but Lewis' crystal clear vocals and clever lyrics help us look at these seemingly familiar sounds in a new light. We also heard Jenny Lewis' version of what a good pop-princess should sound like with "Breakin Up" before they somehow channeled all the good things about Fleetwood Mac with the track "Dreamworld". Lewis took a break offstage while Sennet gave us some acoustic ukulele action with the bouncy track "Ripchord", also off of 2004's More Adventurous. My personal favorite moment of the show was when it seemed like the entire crowd sang along flawlessly to "Arms Outstreched" off their 2002 release, The Execution of all Things. Large silver balloons filled with confetti bounced and popped over the crowd during the new track "Silver Lining", which has pleasant echoes of an old Billy Joel tune. This fan's probably least favorite track off the new album, "Smoke Detector" seemed to play better live when you could really see Lewis' tongue-in-cheek approach to the song, the Brit-popish style, and with her ever brilliant double entendre lyrics like, "I took a man back to my room, I was smokin' him in bed. Yeah, I was smokin' in bed." There wasn't much banter with the audience during the show, although at one point Lewis did invite two girls on stage to try some new dance moves she'd been working on. A two-song encore included a reworked live version of the new 80's-esque track, "Give a Little Love". They ended on a bit of a down note with the tear-jerker "Does He Love You?", also from More Adventurous, but Lewis' vocals seemed flawless and the most heartfelt they'd been all night.

Under the Blacklight never seems to reach the same emotional intensity or provide as much storytelling Rilo Kiley's previous albums. It may be that this indie-pop band has intentionally created their version of a "commercial" album this time around, just to see what would come out of it. Some fans may need time to warm up to the different genres sampled, but Rilo Kiley is still making music the way this fan likes it best. It's all about the vocals and lyrics, and no one does it up right like Jenny Lewis and Rilo Kiley.

- Sara Staley

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