Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interlude: Back At It


I'm thinking about just living in Webster Hall. Sunday marked the fourth time I’ve been in there over the last few weeks, and with a couple of definitives coming up, that count is sure to increase. The venue seems maligned by a sizeable chunk of the concert-going populace (poor sound and expensive drinks seem to be popular complaints), but I find it to be a decent spot to catch a show from a relatively bigger band. I’m also glad that they’ve been triple booking more often than not, giving openers the chance to play to big crowds. There’s a pretty interesting article in the Vancouver Sun (via brooklynvegan) that discusses concert saturation, and while that trend probably applies in NYC, I definitely approve.




Art in Manila

Orenda Fink’s new band adopts some of the sleepy, restrained atmosphere of Azure Ray, but the increased lineup and live setting added some gratifying oomph. The presence of keyboardist Adrienne Verhoeven (formerly of the Anniversary) led to some fantastic harmonizing, but the band is quite clearly structured around Orenda. She has a distinct voice, maintaining a lovely balance between ethereal and earthy. While the set heightened my appreciation for her vocals, it did settle into a pleasant, if somewhat complacent groove.


That is, anyhow, until Adrienne leapt from her keyboard, banging a tambourine, and the she and Orenda proceeded sing into the same mic - loudly! I wish bands would do something that spontaneous at every show. With that momentum, they launched into the title track of their new album, Set The Woods On Fire, and finished things off. Expect to hear more from Art in Manila soon.

MP3: Art in Manila - Set The Woods On Fire
MP3: Art in Manila - The Abomination
MySpace: Art in Manila



Johnathan Rice

Johnathan Rice was hilarious, and that's a compliment. He started things off solo and acoustically, delivering a weighty love song that showcased his strong voice and some pretty interesting lyrics. Thankfully, a full band joined him for the majority of the rest of it, and they played a typical but solid set of rock songs, with the other guitarist switching between electric, steel and acoustic. The music was good, if not terribly exciting, but the banter was gold. An audience member handed Jonathan a note ("I appreciate it"), whose contents he refused to disclose "for your reputation and mine" before dropping in a "so, Union Square at 3 am?" Later, the bassist would be the recipient of another, and Johnathan would (half?) kiddingly inform the crowd to direct all notes "towards the center of the stage." All of this was delivered in his unassuming drawl, which just made it all the more effective.


Johnathan would later be joined by none other than Jenny Lewis (and harsh lighting) for a duet, and the crowd went predictably wild. RK drummer Jason Boesel would also join in for finale "We're All Stuck Out in the Desert and We're Gonna Die," in which Jonathan exhorted the crowd to sing along. It was a fitting closer: although somewhat out of place amidst the indie kids, Johnathan made the best of it and connected, at least for a little while.

MySpace: Jonathan Rice
Official Site: Jonathan Rice



Rilo Kiley
(Livin' in a Dreamworld)

Despite the fact that we'd seen half of Rilo Kiley via cameo by this point, there was an inexplicable gap between sets. Finally, the quartet - along with Orenda and Kristin Gundred of Grand Ole Party - took the stage around 11 pm. Let me say up front that the wait was absolutely worth it. For all the flak that Rilo Kiley have been taking for Under The Blacklight, their power as a live band seems undiminished. In retrospect, more stuff happened in this set than anything I've seen since the chameleon Patrick Wolf (who plays Webster Hall next Wednesday - plug! - although I'm currently not attending). Furthermore, I like the album. Aside from the indulgence on "The Moneymaker," I think most of the songs are pop gems, and if that's because I'm ignorant of the bands and styles they're (allegedly) caricaturing, so be it. Although not quite as interesting as More Adventurous, I think Under The Blacklight's very solid. Having said all that, I'm glad they spread out the setlist to include most of their back catalogue.


Things kicked off with last album's highlights: "It's A Hit" and "Portions For Foxes," separated by "Close Call. " As the first songs I heard from the band, it was fantastic to finally hear them live. The spotlight was, of course, perpetually on Jenny Lewis, and her voice remains RK's strongest asset. Equally adept at projecting heartbreaking vulnerability and devastating strength, Jenny's vocals left me agape throughout the night and judging by the crazy enthusiastic crowd, I wasn't alone. Additional vocals from Orenda and Kirsten were a nice touch, as well, and I pretty awed when Orenda did the trumpet part on the first track, and a few songs thereafter. Is there anything she can't do?


But as the set progressed, Blake Sennett impressed as well, and not simply because he flashed a belt with a ticker that ran "B-MAN," his birthday present from the night before. Aside from playing some blistering guitar all night, he fronted "Dreamworld," which is one of my favorites off the new album. That version is nice and swirly, but the live version featured an impressive four-part harmony, and in my mind it was a fine choice for Jimmy Kimmel. Later, the rest of the band would leave Blake and bassist Pierre De Reeder wielding dual ukuleles for "Ripchord" ("You can rip my cord, Blake!"). Although I don't find the song terrible impressive on record, it was really cool in live form, and pretty indicative of how the band really pulled all the stops over the course of the night.


And that was really what made the show so successful: instead of settling on a pattern, the band switched things up with every song. Or even within songs, as was the case of the "Under The Blacklight" loop turned current single "Silver Lining," which featured huge bouncing balls that burst into explosions of confetti. The confessional "I Never" followed, switching the festive atmosphere to a more somber mood, without sacrificing any of the quality. A nod to side projects led to Jenny's "Rise Up With Fists!" sans Watson Twins and The Elected's "Greetings In Braille," but alas, no "Such Great Heights." A deservedly massive applause resounded during the encore break, and a really touching "Give A Little Love" (dedicated to Blake) followed. "Does He Love You?" was the finale, and after a set like this, I think we all do.


Here's Rilo Kiley at the Glass House in Pomona, California, recorded on January 9th, 2004. It's a stripped down, Jenny-and-Blake acoustic affair, and it's great. Enjoy!

1. Intro
2. A Better Son/Daughter
3. Bulletproof
4. So Long
5. Go Ahead
6. More Adventurous
7. Somebody Else’s Clothes (Robert Palmer Cover)
8. Simple Irresistible Intro
9. Simple Irresistible
10. The Absence of God
11. It Just Is
12. I Never
13. With Arms Outstretched Intro
14. With Arms Outstretched
15. Panty Banter
16. Rock N Roll Suicide (David Bowie Cover)
17. Encore Break
18. Glendora Banter
19. Steve (Take 1)
20. Steve (Take 2)
21. Salute My Shorts
22. Spectacular Views

Entire Set: Mediafire
MySpace: Rilo Kiley
Official Site: Rilo Kiley

1 comment:

Navid said...

youre adorable. you basically summed up my experience seeing them in sf/in all my petty dreams.

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