June 21, 2005

Rilo Kiley & Wilco/Roots Double-Header!

Em and I had a great time at the Rilo Kiley show in LA on Sunday (more photos here). We'd never seen them live before and man, for a poppy-pop band those kids are LOUD. The Wiltern had fantastic sound when we saw Wilco there last November and the venue did not disappoint this time either.

It was kind of like an Imperial Rilo Kiley show in that they kept adding band members at every turn. Trumpet players, percussionists, opener Feist, and (I shit you not) Debbie Gibson. Yep, Rilo frontbabe Jenny Lewis announced at the encore that "our friend Deborah" was coming onstage to help them sing one of her songs. Emily recognized it. I'd imagine many girls of a certain age would. I didn't. I'd wager, though, that this is kind of like when Kiss were suddenly hip again in the early '90s, when all those grungy metalheads finally copped to being in the Kiss Army at age 14.

Anyway, the vibe of the show was great. The band clearly relished a homecoming gig in front of their families and friends, and at a banner local venue. They charged through a long set and ended with a ukelele-powered everyone-sing-along version of "Let My Love Open The Door" by some English guy named Townshend. I bought the latest Rilo album last summer but Emily stole it and played it to death. I came around to it once I figured out Lewis' writing cuts sharper than Elvis Costello has in years.

This was the second of a (kind of) double header, since last Tuesday we also went to the Greek to catch Wilco with the Roots opening. Philly's finest played a loose, jammy set that was more like one long song broken up by gratuitous individual solos. I like their songs, but man, the Roots' set was totally derailed by all that soloing. They weren't kidding by inserting bits of "Whole Lotta Love" into the set (Vernon Reid was the axeman)- for a great, um, rap band on record, the Roots veered dangerously close to dinosaur-rock territory. Now, I've never seen them anywhere else, so maybe they thought they should play to the white rock dudes in the audience (even though I thought WIlco fans were all yuppies like me these days). Still, if they had fun, screw what I think. Ahmir Thompson could tell me where to go and I'd still do it.

Wilco came off a multiple-night, DVD-filming stand in their hometown of Chicago just to play a few gigs with the Roots, something Jeff Tweedy claimed he's wanted to do since his days in Uncle Tupelo. Their self-described breezy, "pleasant" California-night set actually was pretty killer at the beginning- the gimmick seemed, for the first chunk of songs, to be alternating them in order from three separate albums: Being There, A Ghost Is Born and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (wilcobase.com has the set).

Tweedy remained mellow throughout, perhaps coasting after the Chicago gigs, but more likely because his family was there. The singer jumped into the front rows during "I'm The Man Who Loves You" to hug his 5-year-old son after "going against every fatherly instinct" he had by using the noisy tune to wake up his sleeping boy. It looked genuine, and, who am I kidding, it probably was. Overall I liked the Wiltern show from November better- it was louder, harder, and (being indoors) had a great video/light show for a backdrop, but like I said, if they wanted to play an easy gig this time, they earned it. Oh, and Nels Kline remains a monstrously amazing guitarist.

I can't hear a damn thing. I know I will go deaf before age 35.


  1. Anonymous10:08 AM

    Dammit, you're going to keep us in suspense as to the Debbie Gibson song??

    I can name you a couple!

    Only in my Dreams
    Out of the Blue
    Lost in Your Eyes
    Shake Your Love

    Hmm, should I be admitting this? I guess it's not so bad, seeing as how I am a female of that certain age group. :)

    So which one was it???


  2. Out of the Blue, I think.


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