Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Live Review: Rilo Kiley - First Avenue, May 22nd

Download: Spinto Band - "Oh Mandy"
Download: Rilo Kiley - "Draggin Around"
Download: Nik Feritas - "Sun Down"

Rilo Kiley, the poster children of popular indie rock, played a fantastic show to a packed house on Thursday, May 22 at First Avenue.

Opener Nik Freitas started out a relatively short set. He is someone I’m not too familiar with, but I enjoyed the few stray songs I’d heard here and there (mainly the happy acoustic tune "Sun Down," featured on the May release by the same title). I was partially expecting his set to be nothing more than quiet background noise as people trickled into the show, but was pleasantly surprised that his mellow music translates to something quite catchy and lively on stage. Freitas will be coming back to Minneapolis June 30 to play 7th Street Entry.

The Spinto Band are 6 dudes hailing from Delaware who seriously have one of the most oddly fun live presences that I’ve seen as of late, and jammed for 40 minutes right before Rilo Kiley. More often than not it’s a bit of an anticlimactic overkill to have a literal “crew” of band members occupying stage space, especially when the sound isn’t anything to write home about. The Spinto Band, however, brought so much energy with their over-exaggerated, synchronized Beatles body-swaying that it felt like one solid unit, all parties considered. Their sound is somewhere between Blur and modern day Beach Boys with their repetitious drum and symbol explosions high-pitched melodies.

Rilo Kiley experienced a boatload of backlash from hardcore fans and critics alike after its release, calling it "overproduced" and saying that the band had abandoned their profound, heartfelt songwriting skills and in exchange were creating music that sounds like an empty, poorly executed homage to 1960s pop music. I know I’m in the minority by saying this, but I think Under the Blacklight is actually quite a fun, eclectic album, and seeing RK perform those songs live only solidified that opinion. They opened with the sexy, howling ‘Close Call,’ following it with a few more new songs that really exhibited the variety of sound of style that RK are actually capable of pulling of. Jenny Lewis sung her little heart out in all her adorable red-headed glory, but Blake Sennett stole the show with his phenomenal guitar work on songs like ‘The Moneymaker’ and bellowing background vocals on old favorites like ‘Pictures of Success’ (which was definitely a major highlight of the night).

There’s a very good reason that Rilo Kiley’s popularity is continuing to rise; they are an extremely talented and diverse group of musicians, who play together like they were made for one another. Regardless of a few critics and old fans hating on the new avenues Rilo Kiley seems to be feeling out, there’s no denying that when you hear those new songs live, there’s no doubt that their execution is anything but empty.

Nik Feritas MySpace Page
The Spinto Band
Rilo Kiley Myspace Page

(Tara Rogan)

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