I last saw the Rilo Kiley frontwoman perform in San Francisco’s The Fillmore at the last official stop of her 2006 tour to support her solo debut Rabbit Fur Coat.
That concert, which featured The Watson Twins, was decidedly more theatrical at the historic Bay Area venue. Empire has more of a nightclub feel, and thus helped to elevate Lewis‘s performance as a one-woman show in the cozy, yet intimate space.
Lewis opened with the up-tempo pseudo-jam track “See Fernando” which helped rev up the all ages crowd. The concert’s first half was Rabbit Fur Coat-heavy, mixing in rousing old numbers like “Big Guns” and “You Are What You Love” with Acid Tongue tracks like “Pretty Bird” and “Bad Man’s World.”
Always friendly and talkative, Lewis even introduced the audience to her friend Eric who was helping with onstage matters and who also has a special nickname that isn’t Johnathan Rice‘s blurted “Sgt. Snuggles.” One can only assume and wonder the truth.
Lewis felt the need to apologize to all the moms in the audience as she took off yet another article of clothing while sitting at the keyboard. First came the hat. Then the jacket went off, which prompted the appropriate screams and at least one swooning fan (and by a female no less). I think all the men got excited at the prospect of more stripping, but were disappointed for not being pleasured by the short shorts of her recent Pomona show.
Oh well, she still danced and wowed the front row fans (of mostly girls) with her sexy moves and vocal poses. During the midpoint, Lewis was left on stage for a little solo work, even singing a Rilo Kiley song to which she performed the “original” rendition of “Silver Lining.” She even dedicated “Rabbit Fur Coat” to California First Lady Maria Shriver (inside joke involving crowd banter).
There was a special duet between Lewis and longtime beau Rice with the two covering the Roy Orbison-popularized “Love Hurts.” Unsurprisingly, Lewis ended the show (like the Fillmore show if I remember correctly) with the passionate “Born Secular” with her bandmates as an impromptu choir. Well, for the encore, Lewis legitimately ended it with the crowd favorite “Rise Up With Fists.”
Lewis’ charm wasn’t lost on the crowd nor was it lost in the contemporary, somewhat modern venue. Her alt-country indie music didn’t feel out of place, and her sexiness definitely didn’t go unnoticed with her more soulful pieces.
Los Angeles-based quartet Dawes opened the concert and provided a complimentary Americana sound. Apparently, the band’s name is confusing, which prompted lead singer Taylor Goldsmith to repeatedly spell out their name.
Overall, the concert was very entertaining on both ends with Lewis herself being the night’s biggest highlight.