Rilo Kiley @ The Glass House
April 24, 2008 - Pomona, CA
By Darren Kim
LA's Silver Lining
Photos by Darren Kim
Pictures Of Success
When I think of all of the bands that have emerged from the shallow depths of Los Angeles' indie scene, one band stands out. Rilo Kiley. Forget all the wannabes who aspire to capture the superficial beauty and desperation of LA. After nearly ten years of steadily capturing moods and fans, Rilo Kiley has been there and done that.
From their humble beginnings of Spaceland residencies eight years ago to their recent rise as major label darlings, these guys have run the gamut of indie achievement. Last year was especially fruitful however with the release of their most successful album to date Under The Blacklight. After appearing on the cover of SPIN magazine, they've finally reached new heights and a wider audience.
People outside of Los Angeles may not understand the full appeal of Rilo Kiley, but around these parts, lead singer Jenny Lewis is god. After abandoning a career in acting and spending a decade tinkering away with lead guitarist Blake Sennett and their band, Jenny Lewis has attained a point in her career where everything she touches turns to gold. From her successful foray into a solo career to being named a "Pioneer Woman" by LA's city council, she has reached legendary status around these parts.
It's most apparent attending their shows here. Year after year, Rilo Kiley's fan base grows bigger and more fervorous than ever. You can sense it. The air gets thicker. The crowd become more difficult to navigate. And before you know it, you're trapped unable to budge in fear of losing your spot unable to go to the restroom or get a drink.
Last year's seedy exploration of LA's underbelly Under The Blacklight was a drastic change in direction from Rilo Kiley of old. Gone were the days of longing lyrics of quiet desperation and self pity. Words such as, "If you want me you better speak up I won't wait" were replaced with "I got a tail if you wanna chase it, I got a tongue if you wanna taste it". Quite a contrast but a welcomed change in both the band's personality and noticeably louder sound.
However, Rilo Kiley's newfound confidence hasn't come without controversy. After attending five of their shows this past year, I've always been curious to ask fans about their opinion of Under The Blacklight. Opinions ranged from, "It's their worst album ever!" to "I hated it first, but it grew on me." Never has a Rilo Kiley album divided its fan base than Blacklight. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of first timers whom I met at every show usually followed by shrieks of, "This is the first time I've seen them!" or "Jenny is so pretty!" If anything Blacklight is the best thing that has happened to Rilo Kiley. A toned down, simpler version of Rilo Kiley, easily digestible with radio-friendly pop songs and a strong beat to win over hordes of new fans while leaving long time fans wanting more.
Love it or hate it, facts are facts. Next month, Rilo Kiley will reach another LA milestone when they play the Greek Theatre here in Los Angeles.
Hints of palm trees and longing with a little bit of country are still there. It's just mixed with a touch more bravado, sex, and Jenny Lewis. And to the die hard fans unwilling to accept change, deal with it. Personally, I'm looking forward to the summer because I can't think of a better band to listen to full-blast while carelessly cruising down Sunset Blvd.