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Dear Jenny Lewis,
You had me scared there for a second. Under the Blacklight had me scared. It took me a while to admit my love for Rilo Kiley in the first place—your all-too-perfect vocal twang and guitarist Blake Sennett's occasional overindulgence both fed my reluctance—but Blacklight has some downright inexcusable stuff on it. You and your bandmates are far too good to make a record that wastes more than half its time on shallow period pieces. But I digress...
Saturday's show was one of the greatest rock and roll spectacles I've seen in a long time. I don't know how you keep churning new meaning out of those old songs (and more old ones were played than new ones), but it certainly seems like you're moved by both the tunes and the audience's reaction to them. Maybe that's the actress in you. But on Saturday your sad lines were tear-jerkers and your screams were cathartic. You looked like Joan Jett and Dusty Springfield and Patti Smith rolled into one, and your voice was unbelievable. You were rock and you were soul and you were dust bowl country. I believed every word that came out of your mouth to be the gospel truth. It was one of the most powerful performances I've ever seen, and you rolled through lyrics I forgot I knew as if you'd just written them that day: "And sometimes when you're on/ You're really fucking on/ And your friends all sing along/ And they love you/ But the lows are so extreme/ That the good seems fucking cheap/ And it teases you for weeks in its absence."
I don't expect your band—which I have grown very fond of over the years—to discontinue its musical exploration (it sounded like you were headed into prog-rock territory on Saturday, and more power to you). And maybe Under the Blacklight was just a creative step you needed to take. But please, please, please don't ever dumb it down again. The potential for greatness is way too high.
For the record, Luciana Lopez at the Oregonian had an entirely different take on this show than Jarman did.
Photos by Clara Ridabock