October 04, 2007

Feels Good To Be Free: Rilo Kiley, Live In Orlando

Snowball digs Jenny Lewis.

Lead guitarist, Blake Sennett, introduced his blond-haired brother from out of town, who he curiously called Snowball, adding that the band would perform his favorite Rilo Kiley song in honor of his attendance. "Try to hear this through Snowball's ears," Sennett added before the band launched into "Rise Up With Fists!!!" which, technically, isn't even a Rilo Kiley song. It's a Jenny Lewis song, from her solo side project last year.

Despite the discrepancy, this was neither the first nor the last time that Jenny Lewis would become the focus of Rilo Kiley's concert on Tuesday night 
(10/2) at the House of Blues. In an 80-minute set, the coquettish front woman entertained an enthusiastic crowd with flirtation and finesse, performing songs about promiscuity, adultery, and pornography, among other sordid versions of love.

Dressed in matching black hot pants and bustier, all five feet of Lewis looked ever so diminutive with an electric guitar slung on her shoulder for "Close Call." "Funny thing about money for sex," Lewis snarled, "You might get rich, but you die by it."

On "Breakin' Up," she abandoned the axe to strut the stage, spiritedly banging on a cowbell, drawing howls and screams every time she postured or pouted. "The Moneymaker," a strip-club anthem if ever there was one, turned the packed concert hall into a hotbed, for those so inclined, to slip into a sweltering groove.

If these songs lacked substance or if this band fell short on talent, such a performance would seem gratuitous. Fortunately, though, these are some well-written pop songs and this is one seriously proficient group of musicians.

On top of the polished pop songs, country-styled tracks like "I Never," which notably featured Lewis on keyboards, and "A Man/Me/Then Jim," further illustrated the breadth of influence and ability among the band members. The rhythm section of bassist Pierre de Reeder and drummer Jason Boesel laid the perfect foundation for tracks especially like these to flourish.

All eyes and attention fell back upon Lewis, nonetheless, as she girlishly ambled back to the keyboard to begin the encore. After a subtle swig of beer, she and the rest of Rilo Kiley played "Give A Little Love," which preceded a thrilling rendition of "Does He Love You?" that sent the already excited crowd into increased and deafening cries of joy. Near the stage, one young man leaped in the air, trying to reach Lewis as she sang the song's final words and waved goodbye.

Clearly, Snowball is not alone in digging Jenny Lewis.