Jenny Lewis Live at the Boulder Theater
Last night, by virtue of word of mouth, by virtue of Twitter, I was fortunate enough to attend a secret, special and extremely intimate Jenny Lewis performance. As part of the Target/Converse Onestar video challenge (which seemed to be a series of short films promoting social action, green living, charity, etc.) Lewis headlined after opener Kaki King. Before I get to the music, I want to address this trend of YouTube video meets corporate promotion of civic duty. Target and Converse clearly got more promo goodwill out the idea that they care about these things, racism, community, etc. And as a result I got a ton of Target/Converse guitar picks, and poly-foam coasters (which likely aren't very Earth friendly). The issue with the YouTube videos is that they selected some relatively uninspired stuff, but boy howdy did most of it have a shot of a kid in Converse shoes. That's the kind of socially responsible advertising you can take the corporate "feel better about ourselves" convention no matter how many people you may eventually layoff or out-source.
But, that's as ranty as I feel like getting on this topic. If you have comments, please don't hesitate to pop in on the discussion and give me your thoughts too. Thoughts like, "at least they're doing something to improve community", or "it's better to advertise with a message than to do it entirely self-servingly" will be accepted, but please do elaborate on the greater issue beyond just placating corporate giants for their meager bouts of sincerity.
On to the music. Kaki King might really have been good, but after a broken low E string early in the set altered the course of the performance it devolved into an open-mic-style sing-a-long... but we didn't get to sing too. So, it was good, like the way camp songs are good when there's little to no alternative. King is definitely talented and got me onto to Blip.fm today to hear more. This was just a sort of unfortunate circumstance that she recovered from with grace and humor. For that, despite the music being less than spectacular at times, she was very successful. And truly, I have to applaud her for coming to the Boulder Theater for a corporate charity-bene-awareness concert event and playing with the spirit she did. The place was nearly empty when she took the stage, and while the Boulder Theater is not a big venue, it's not a small one either, larger than the Bluebird, smaller than the Ogden... she really deserved more people interested and supportive of her.
Jenny Lewis came out and blew the place apart. With Jonathan Rice as accompaniment, and a traveling boyfriend, Lewis played "Silver Lining" and "Handle With Care" (the Traveling Wilburys cover from Rabbit Fur Coat) and a handful of other hits before closing with a new song. She was pitch perfect throughout the performance and played well to the intimate setting; just herself, Rice two stools and two guitars. We were fortunate enough to stand just to the left of her along the wooden runner edging the stage.
Lewis was goofy, fun and attentive to the audience and the only bad thing was that her time was so limited. She played for a quick 45 minutes and left the stage as the house lights flooded the theater. It would have been great to get an encore out of her as she was spot on, and our proximity made the whole performance seem exclusive, in that way that "special secret events" always do. She was even gracious enough, after asking for a suggestion for the final song, to acknowledge my screaming, "Paint's Peeling!" with a demure, "Oh I don't remember how to play Paint's Peeling." It was that kind of show. I really felt (and it might've been the beer/scotch talking at that point) like it would be a reasonable thing to try to strike up a conversation with her after the show. Ask her to sign my souvenir poster. Ask her to bless a guitar pick... Few shows go down with the fun, community vibe this one provided. Despite the corporate advertising stuff, it was a wonderful find and a brilliant evening.
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