Breaking the usual Memorial Day traditions of cook-outs, fireworks and parades, hundreds of fans disregarded festive events and opted instead to stand outside the House of Blues in Cleveland, and wait patiently for the doors to open. California indie rockers Rilo Kiley took the stage right on time, playing to a packed house that sang their praises before they even emerged from the wings. Lead by the iconic former child star and dazzling red head, Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley delivered a high energy thirteen song set featuring a great mix of songs from their last three full length studio releases, including 2007’s ‘Under the Black Light.’ Lewis seemed to have come gift wrapped for the evening’s set, wearing black jeans and a purple sleeveless top with a giant white bow adorning the middle of her back. Both charismatic and confident, she was, at all times, the evening’s main attraction. Her voice was strong and sweet and her movements graceful as she floated around the stage.
“Close Call,” a newer song off ‘Under the Black Light,’ kicked the set off, and was followed by “Moneymaker” a slightly sinister and sultry number that stars softcore porn stars in its music video. “Ripchord,” a touching song written about Elliott Smith and featuring vocals by guitarist Blake Sennett (also known as Pinsky from Nickelodeon’s classic 90’s hit ‘Salute Your Shorts’) **Editor’s note: aka “The Greatest Show of All F’in Time!**
“Silver Lining,” arguably one of the catchiest songs Rilo has to offer, had the audience dancing and singing along as giant clear balloons filled with silver glitter fell from the heavens, bounced, and eventually burst in a storm of gentle metallic silver rain. “I Never” closed the set, with Jenny taking up keyboards and singing to Sennett, before collapsing onto the stage as he played his guitar over her. The encore delivered “A Better Son/Daughter” and closed with “Portions for Foxes,” with Lewis dancing herself right off the stage.
Nik Freitas, an acoustic guitar wielding singer/songwriter also hailing from Los Angeles, opened the night with a short set full of wistful, earnest, and classic-rock-esque songs. Armed with only his acoustic guitar for the first half of the set, Freitas got down to business with minimal banter, only pausing to briefly promote his recently released album ‘Sun Down.’ After several songs, Freitas was joined by Pierre de Breeder and Jason Boesel of Rilo Kiley, who sufficiently assisted him in rocking a little harder, as he alternated between guitar and keyboards for the second half of his set. “All the Way Down,” “Sophie,” and “Sun Down” were set standouts.
Sandwiched between Freitas and Rilo was The Spinto Band from Wilmington, Delaware, rolling six members deep and wielding kazoos. Having toured with bands such as We Are Scientists, Art Brut, The Arctic Monkeys and The Kooks, The Spinto Band added another notch to their touring belt, as the Cleveland show marked their last scheduled appearance with Rilo Kiley. Playing a medium length set of high energy indie power pop tunes, thick with guitars, keyboards and the sweet and comical buzzing of said kazoos, The Spinto band engaged the audience with a selection of songs including “Summer Grof,” “Later On,” and “Oh Mandy.”
Photos © Emily Drakulich