Waking Up To The World Of Rilo Kiley

“What the heck is Rilo Kiley?” As I slogged through a dark, rainy Thursday night into the more nefarious sections of Washington, D.C., I seriously questioned the sanity of my decision to forgo the season openers of “Ugly Betty” and “Grey’s Anatomy” for a stab at a free concert at the 9:30 club. I mean, am I really such a glutton for free things I would turn down Armand’s pizza, a cozy leather couch and lots of friends to hang out with for a free concert with a band I have never heard of?

The answer? A resounding “YES!”

While I love TV and pizza, I am positively obsessed with listening to live music at the 9:30 club – which I think is the best venue in D.C. to listen to tunes. So, unlike the fans who sold out the club two nights in a row because they actually wanted to specifically hear Rilo Kiley tour to promote their latest release Under The Blacklight, I went because the concert was free.

The band, comprised of Jenny Lewis (vocals), Blake Sennett (guitar), Pierre de Reeder (bass), and Jason Boesel (drums), played the type of music I expect as the soundtrack to anything related to the 1970s. They are very mellow, very easy to listen to, with just enough of a beat to not put you to sleep. In fact, their music video to my favorite Rilo Kiley song “Silver Lining” is backdropped by a wedding from this same time period. (I did dip into the fan obsessed world of Rilo Kiley earlier in the day. After getting this assignment, I had about five minutes free so I went to their myspace page, www.myspace.com/rilokiley. They have an exceptionally catchy hit called “Silver Lining.” During my stressful and crazy-busy day, it went down my fun-starved veins as sweet and refreshing as a Thomas Sweet Peppermint Milkshake. So, I did have a vague notion of what Rilo Kiley was…very, very, very vague.)

Sadly, the live version of either song was not as good as the recording. I could barely understand a word of the vocals Jenny Lewis sang, so either there was a problem with her mic – doubtful – or she needs to learn how to enunciate more. Also, after fifteen songs of her singing style, I came to the disappointing realization that every long note had an upswing at the end of it, a modified form of yodeling which grated to the point of making me want to leave early – something I have never felt at the 9:30 club – and then actually leaving after the sixteenth song.

And to distribute the criticism equally, the guys in the band weren’t altogether bad, they just had some problems with tempo. Plus, they were slightly lackluster in their energy level, but, then again, I was probably so distracted by my inability to understand Jenny I couldn’t really enjoy the concert.

I still like their music though -- “The Moneymaker” is also a good song -- I just wouldn’t pay to see them live. Ever. I might not even go if it were free…though I always give a band a second chance. We shall see. But check them out for yourself. www.rilokiley.com.

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