Rilo Kiley brought the noise, and I brought my camera. Rocking the Jesse Auditorium in Columbia, the LA four-piece delivered a crowd-pleasing set that favored new songs while still including a few fan favorites from their back catalogue.
The night started off with San Diego trio Grand Ole Party, who earned a surprisingly strong crowd reaction with their raw, powerful blues-infused rock. At the heart of the band, sonically and visual, was Kristin Gundred, who wailed on the mic and drums alike with a commanding presence.
Next up was singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice, who offered a charming performance, the stage banter and delivery of which was perhaps more endearing than the music. When asked what he was drinking, Rice paused to considered the styrofoam cup before coyly answering, to the largely underage audience, “Oh, this… this is just water that smells like whiskey.”
The biggest applause during Rice's set during his performance of “End of the Affair,” when he was joined on stage by Jenny Lewis, who co-wrote the song.
By the end of Rice's set, the crowd had filled out considerably, with a large part of the audience taking up standing positions at the front of the stage, despite the reserved-seating policy of the venue. Though the house seemed far from full, the wide-eyed enthusiasm of the crowd made up for whatever it lacked in numbers.
Minutes after the scheduled 10:00 pm start time, Rilo Kiley took the stage to collegiate-strength hoots and hollers, with various professions of love for Blake Sennett and Jenny Lewis, the group's most prominent members.
The band set into the single “It's A Hit,” from their 2002 release, The Execution of All Things, followed by “Close Call,” from their new album, Under the Blacklight. These first two songs set the expectation for the night as the band alternated between new and old tunes, throwing in “covers” of songs by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins as well as Blake Sennett and Jason Boesel's band The Elected.
Weaving between their four albums, Rilo Kiley's set stretched into an epic hour and fourty-minute performance spanning the band's hit singles and more obscure tracks alike.
While the performance highlighted work from their new album, the band rewarded loyal fans with a pair of songs from their 2004 release, More Adventurous, “A Man/Me/Then Jim” and “Does He Love You,” the latter of which closed out the night in monumental fashion with an early leave by Lewis and an extended instrumental by the rest of the band.
For full image sets from the show, peep the Flickr:
The lighting was nothing terribly interesting, but the constant spread of two spotlights on Blake Sennett and Jenny Lewis helped make for some of the deficiencies in the quality of the lighting. The spotlights' intensity enabled a little more freedom with lenses, so everything from f/1.4 primes to f/2.8 zooms was fair game for this show. All said and done, I used all the lenses I brought in some capacity:
The 17-55mm f/2.8, however, saw the most use, as expected given the stage-front shooting position.
Still, for all their help with keeping shutterspeeds up and ISO down, the spotlights created the biggest challenge of the show in the deep shadows the microphones cast on the faces of the musicians. Between a static shooting position and the harsh contrasts, getting clean shots simply required a little more persistence. Luckily, with the song limit out the window, time was on my side.
Nikon D2x: $4500. Nikon 17-55: $1250. Catching a little fill from someone's p&s: priceless.
It's A Hit
Portions For Foxes
Wires And Waves
With Arms Outstretched
I NeverSmoke Detector
Rise Up With Fists! (Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins)
Greeting In Braille (The Elected)
A Man/Me/Then Jim
Does He Love You?