As if things weren’t already festive enough at the sold-out Rilo Kiley show at Webster Hall Saturday night, it was also band guitarist Blake Sennett’s birthday. So towards the end of the show, he was serenaded with — what else? — “Happy Birthday” from his band mates and the merry audience. That was just an indication of the party-like atmosphere inside the capacity-filled Hall.
Yet it didn’t feel like your typical indie rock concert. With the elaborate fancy lighting and the band members—particularly singer Jenny Lewis—being totally on their A-game, the performance had the trappings of a spectacle. That feeling of grandiosity complemented the radio-friendly pop songs Rilo Kiley performed from its latest album “Under the Blacklight.” It might be uncharacteristic to hear the hard funk of “The Moneymaker,” for example, coming from a band known for its straightforward rock, but there wasn’t any complaining from the cheering audience members either.
As evident from the some of the new poppier songs and the performance, the comparison to another California band, Fleetwood Mac, (as Spin implied on its recent cover) isn’t far off the mark. Even the new song that was played, “Breakin’ Up,” recalls Rumours-era Mac lyrically with the dance vibe of early Madonna. Whether its cult fandom approves of this current direction or not, Rilo Kiley is ready for the big time.
photo by Autumn DeWilde