Rilo Kiley: Avalon Ballroom, Boston, MA 9/21/07

Rilo Kiley came through Boston’s Avalon Ballroom, hoping to give fans a taste of their A game, but wound up delivering a performance that was less than stellar. A lot has changed since Rilo Kiley performed in Beantown last, and the changes within the groups dynamic were evident from the start.
Front woman Jenny Lewis has spent a decent amount of her energy touring in support of Rabbit Fur Coat, the sole studio album by her side project, Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins. While Lewis and the Watson Twins were doing their thing, the group’s guitarist and instrumental nerve stem, Blake Sennett wound up straying from the well-light path Rilo Kiley’s success has provided and has consistently gigged with other band  – The Elected.

The last two years have seen Kiley’s two most significant personalities pursuing their respective side projects, and as a result, both parties seemed less than enthusiastic to be back on stage together.
Rilo Kiley opened with “Close Call,” off of their new release, Under the Black Light. They clearly put a lot of energy into their performance, but what was missing was a sense of musical collaboration. Things on stage were hyped up and engaging, but none of the group’s members seemed interested in interacting with each other. Lewis belted her heart out on the tune “Breakin’ Up” and Sennett strummed his way through a few semi-windmills that provided some Pete Townshend-like imagery, but neither party bothered to engage one another in either an instrumental or performing context. Songs were successfully recreated note for note, but one couldn’t help but feel as though Sennett’s mind was on getting back on stage with a group that let him hold the spotlight.
For a long time Rilo Kiley fan, their performance was sure to offer you a hits filled set that provided ample opportunity to let loose. But for a concertgoer looking for something with a little more depth, the set fell disappointingly short of creating anything on stage with a pulse.

Given the rather dull sound Under the Blacklight embodies, the lack of passion on stage shouldn’t have been a surprise. However, even with an album that’s below par, expecting them to ratchet things up is more than fair. Unfortunately, when they came through Boston, the group’s individual distractions drew away from their ability to operate as an artistically progressive unit.

Live photo by Scott Fleishman

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