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Monday, October 4th, 2004

It's A Hit

To quote Danny Glover, “I’m getting to old for this shit”. The last of three shows in three nights was queued up for last night, and it was probably my most anticipated of the three. Rilo Kiley can lay claim to having released one of my favourite records of the year in More Adventurous so I was obviously hoping the live show could enhance the musical experience.

Interestingly, the bill for the tour read like a snapshot of Saddle Creek through the ages – you had Rilo Kiley, who left the label, Tilly & The Wall, currently on the ‘farm team’ imprint, Team Love. Not that that means anything, I just found it interesting.

Tilly & The Wall are a 10-legged tap-dancing diabetic coma waiting to happen – they are so cute it borders on sickening. Taking the stage with a “T! I! L! L! Y!” chant, the combo immediately got their game on tapping, stomping and singing. As was pointed out to me, only Jamie Williams actually taps – Neely Jenkins and Kianna Alarid just stomp along while singing. But whatever you want to call it, whenever you get three cute girls in short skirts dancing and singing, a good time is going to be had. Their music is buoyant and happy and infectious like ebola, and while it is gimmicky (they tap dance for pete’s sake), it’s never jokey. They played a short 40-minute set, and while the crowd wanted more (they took a little while to comprehend what they were seeing), it might be for the best that they kept it brief. I’m not sure how much a body could take without needing an insulin shot.

The middle slot belonged to Athens, Georgia’s Now It’s Overhead. If you want to know what they sound like, just imagine what you’d think college rock in the mid 1990s would sound like. You’re pretty much there. NIE are a jangly, riffy, electronic-tinged, earnest and no doubt sensitive amalgam of everything you’d think a US college radio station would have played during the Clinton years. Live, their material was stronger than the samples I got off the website had hinted at and any act that brings uber-cutie Orenda Fink to town has my gratitude (leave me alone, I’ve had a crush on her since her Little Red Rocket days). Curiously, her Azure Ray cohort and NIE keyboardist Maria Taylor wasn’t along for the trip. Overall, I didn’t mind their set at all though follwing the nuttiness of Tilly & The Wall and leading into the hotly anticipated headliner, they came off as a little bit bland. They could be going onto bigger and better things, though – after they wrap up this tour, they will be supporting fellow Athenians REM on a leg of their North American tour.

If nothing else, Rilo Kiley can say they drew an exponentially larger audience this time around last time around – instead of the seven people or so who caught them at their Toronto debut in 2002, there were at least 49 in the audience last night, probably more. The band wasn’t to be outdone, though, doubling their on-stage contingent to eight – in addition to the core band there was a 2-piece string section, Orenda from Now It’s Overhead on trumpet and a third guitarist. The setlist drew mainly from More Adventrous and The Execution Of All Things, though they reached back to Take-Offs And Landings for “Small Figures In A Vast Expanse”. A nice treat was having the introduction to “The Execution Of All Things” rearranged for plucked strings, to great effect, and the charming-if-not-entirely-successful false ending of “I Never”. For the encore, Blake performed “Ripchord” solo, stopping between verses to gently chide a couple audience members for talking while he played (“This isn’t like TV, I can hear you!”) and then bringing the band back on to close things out.

All in all, a great and energetic performance that was sadly marred by the atrocious sound – everything was excessively loud, the mix was bad and the show suffered for it. This isn’t just my old man ears complaining, I know loud but my ears were almost in physical pain from the sonic assault. The vocals were barely audible at the start of the show and only improved incrementally as the night went on. The biggest culprit was the third guitarist who apparently felt that being number three meant having to be louder than one and two put together. I tried putting the earplugs in for the louder numbers and taking them out for the quieter ones with limited success. Note to self – get some proper fitted earplugs. NOW.

As always, lighting at the show started out great and got progressively darker. Sigh. Stupid Horseshoe. Pics here.

The New York Times profiles Nonesuch, the little major label that actually believes in crazy things like artistic integrity and good music. What a concept.

News from Pernice Brothers-land. They are prepping a DVD for release next month and have a new CD ready to drop in late January/early February of next year which will feature the recording debut of the current touring lineup.

Sad sad day for Canadian baseball yesterday. The Expos played their final game in Montreal and the Jays capped their worst season in over two decades with another loss which was likely the final game of longtime franchise player Carlos Delgado. All that seemed inconsequential, however, with news that former Jay pitcher John Cerutti was found dead at the age of 44 in his hotel room before the game. Cerutti was a mainstay of the pitching staff in the late 80s when the Jays captured the AL East pennant in 85 and 89, when I started watching baseball, and had been Jays commentator for CBC and SportsNet since the 97 season. Rest in peace, John. Dave Perkins of The Toronto Star has a eulogy.

np – Tilly & The Wall / Wild Like Children

By : Frank Yang at 10:15 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Gary Campbell says:

    Frank, I was in a slight state of regret at not going to the Rilo Kiley show, but you’ve happily convinced me I didn’t miss the best show of the year. Are you going to The Organ on the 23rd or The Delgados?

  2. mishie says:

    it was great seeing you at the show frank :) and thanks for trying to help me sell my extra tickets. i thought it was a really good show, and it far surpassed my expectations…i guess i’ll post my thoughts later on.

  3. Frank says:

    Gary – no, you didn’t miss one for the ages. I was really frustrated by the sound. Jenny’s voice is sort of the whole point and it was lost in a wash of guitar… and it wasn’t even really good guitar tone. I am at the Delgados on the 23rd – I’m liking Universal Audio quite a bit, looking forward to hearing it live.

    Michelle – likewise, glad you liked it. I wish I liked it more than I did but I still managed to have a good time.

  4. brian says:

    man, the sound for tilly and overhead was great… and then they stupidly amped it up so much for rilo. bah.

  5. david says:

    Now I’m not as hyped to see RK next week in North Carolina. At least I can always look forward to Yo La Tengo next weekend, Ira will never let me down.

  6. Frank says:

    dave, maybe you’ll get lucky and have a decent sound guy, though I think they actually brought their own which doesn’t necessarily bode well. SEriously, I was tempted to jump on stage and turn everyone’s amps DOWN.

    Yo La Tengo has been hit or miss for me. I’ve seen them twice and I liked them the first time, was bored the second. I think I have to be in the right mood if they’re feeling jammy. Which seems to be, like, always now.

  7. mike says:

    I know it’s terrible for me to say this, but ditto on Gary’s sentiments…And you said there was only 49 people in the audience? That sucks.

  8. Frank says:

    no no, there were far more than 49 people there – it was a very solid crowd from what I could see. I was just making a math joke.

  9. Frank says:

    And apparently the sound was fine out further back in the club – I guess they fixed the mix through the PA. The on-stage levels were truly messed, though.

  10. kurmidt says:

    so U were the guy with the huge camera! hehe. ya i think what happened to the sound was that the mic over the keyboard had some sorta weird feedback thing happening and whenever she used it, it just whined the hell out of everything, but other than that i thought it was excellent.

    cheers.

  11. Frank says:

    nope, I wasn’t the guy with the huge camera. A couple of the guys behind me were toting SLRs, I make do with a regular-sized P&S.

  12. kurmidt says:

    ah… good to know. i was the guy who was standing behind the tall guy. boo.