Posted by: Joe | September 19, 2007

So F***ing Beautiful

I was out to the Phoenix last night to see Rilo Kiley, in town in support of their new album Under the Blacklight. The response to their latest release has been polarizing amongst fans–there are virtually no middle-of-the-road reviews. I think most of the blame can be placed on one track; “Dejalo” is so jarringly bad it distracts from the rest of the album which I find to be typical Rilo Kiley fare. It’s like a bad Miami Sound Machine cover band suddenly popped into the studio to lay down a track in the middle of the album.

The show started off with Grand Ole Party, a San Diego 3-piece who are somewhat unique if only for having a female drummer / lead vocalist. I find the drummer/vocalist is like a skateboarding dog–technically not great* but it’s sort of amazing that it happens at all. Her voice though, made up for merely adequate percussion, piercing through the room, glass, eardrums, souls, etc.

Next up was LA singer/songwriter Johnathan Rice, who is the new front runner for my “Most Stoned/Drunk Performer To Turn In A Great Performance” Award. One of the song lyrics mentioned something Canadian and the crowd reacted enthusiastically, startling Rice. I think he may have forgotten which country he was in. The set was punctuated by an upbeat crowd-participation sing-along titled “We’re All Stuck Out In The Desert (And We’re Gonna Die)”. The bluesy-rock sound has been done before, but the songwriting is remarkable. “The Middle of the Road” is the other track to check out.

Just after Rice left the stage, a couple teen girls standing in front of me realized that they were standing under a blacklight. Apparently this is the funniest thing that has ever happened to anyone. Ever.

Rilo Kiley took the stage after a lengthy sound-check that got the crowd a little antsy. It was worth the wait–their set was one of the best sounding performances I’ve experienced at the Phoenix. Some have criticized Lewis’s vocals on the album (perhaps rightly) as being somewhat lackluster. She was stunning last night, pouring her heart into every song. Sometimes after a show I avoid listening to certain songs because I want to remember them live –“Spectacular Views” and “Does He Love You?” won’t be in my rotation anytime soon.

*Sebastien Grainger notwithstanding. He’s a freak.

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