Monday, March 06, 2006

Jenny Lewis at the Glass House in Pomona

An art center, right in the middle of Pomona: Who would have thought it was possible. This is a very cool alternative to driving all the way into L.A. Although, if I’m in the OC at 4pm, it ain’t gonna happen. I was able to adjust my schedule this week and work at my client’s in Chino Hills Wednesday, so I lucked out this time.

The Glass House is an old furniture warehouse, according to Bill. It is one big open space with a stage in the corner; allowing for a wide viewing angle. At the back of the building, there is a small upstairs area with a few seats. Although it would have been a comfortable and reasonable place to watch a concert, we were afraid of how the sound would be, so back down we went; into the crowd. We figured it was heavily a Claremont College crowd. And what a wonderful crowd it was. Maybe the best I’ve been in since the last Springsteen show. It was so uplifting to me to know that there were young people today who come to concerts to hear the music. Even if… well, we’ll get to that in a minute. I think I was the oldest or second oldest in the crowd. We found 2 others who looked our age. Otherwise the crowd was pretty much not at drinking age yet (I understand it is a 16 and over club). The thing was, they were respectful. There was little talking during the show, lots of enthusiasm for all of the songs from all of the acts and it was just obvious that they were really there to hear the music. How refreshing that was.

Opening the show was Whispertown 2000. So, before I say what I have to say about their performance you should know that it was their first show and Morgan was sick. She actually came out and immediately sprayed something into her mouth. You expect that when an artist is sick they have trouble hitting notes. But what you forget is that it also can affect their hearing. I’ve been listening to their site on Myspace and am now sure that is what happened because, well, Susie and I kept looking at each other with painful looks on our faces as Morgan kept hitting notes that should be made illegal (and may be in some parts of the world). It was really painful. No. It was really really painful. I can’t even begin to talk about the music itself because it was just so hard to get past the vocals that night. Listening to songs on their website, I can see how they could go so wrong. She/they do not produce typical melodies and if you miss some of those notes, it’s like hitting a gravel patch off the side of they road; you’re in deep trouble. The crowd was very supportive though. Some even started clapping along with one of the songs.

Michael Runion was the second act on the bill. He did a fun solo set playing music that reminded me of Jack Johnson. The lyrics sounded pretty interesting too. He is someone I am going to keep an eye on. Probably the highlight of his act though was his back and forth dialog with the audience. He is a very funny guy and had the audience laughing out loud at some of his off the cuff comments. I’d love to see him in a small club sometime.

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins started the show in very dramatic fashion: With the band already on stage, they started singing the a capella opening to their CD, “Run Devil Run”. Slowly the three of them walked onto the stage, continuing to sing without microphones. As they hit the last note of the song, Jenny strummed her guitar creating a huge amount of feedback. It wasn’t what she had in mind, but this was opening night of the tour. Actually, sound was a problem all night for all three groups. Jenny apologized, they got the sound levels figured out, and off she went singing about God and religion and life in the big city. I love the new CD and they focused on it throughout the night; playing only a few songs outside of it. There were no Rilo Kiley songs, which seems to show how strongly she feels about this CD. Although I enjoyed the show, she really didn’t add to the songs. This is the first night of the tour so maybe it will take a bit of time and maybe I’m expecting too much; but I do like to see the artist push beyond the limits of the studio when they are in concert. One new song stood out, “Jack Killed Mom”, a funny rollicking blue-eyed soul/country song that turned into a gospel like rave at the end. During the encore they did an a copella version of “I met him on a Sunday”. The standout piece of the evening was the title track from “Rabbit Fur Coat” which she sang accompanied only by her guitar. It is a very powerful, semi-autobiographical song about growing up in Hollywood. The band, is comprised of a couple of Rilo Kiley members along with Michael Runion on bass and Jonathan Rice on guitar. Rice did a nice job playing lots of acoustic solos. Overall it was a good show and a fun evening.

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