November 10, 2014 Jenny Lewis dazzles The Space at Westbury, NY 11-5-14
Luckily for Long Island, Jenny Lewis expanded the East Coast leg of her tour for her latest album, The Voyager, and gave The Space at Westbury quite a treat with opener Girlpool on Thursday November 6th. Released on July 29th, The Voyager was primarily produced by singer/songwriter Ryan Adams and was the labor of love that got Lewis through the difficult time period of both the end of her band and other personal events. Lewis, a former child/teen actor, first gained notice in the music scene with her band Rilo Kiley. After releasing their first album in 2001, the group really took off after signing with Omaha, NE label Saddle Creek and their follow up The Execution of All Things. Lewis pursued other ventures while continuing to record with Rilo Kiley, but the band broke up officially in 2011. Beginning her touring cycle in support of her latest efforts this summer, fans of all ages gathered in excitement to see Lewis in what was anticipated to be a very special evening at The Space.
Southern California’s Girlpool are Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker, who took the stage promptly at 8 P.M. The duo use just guitar, bass, and their voices to put across an aggressive and stark honesty. After the somewhat jarring ‘Blah Blah Blah’, the crowd seemed to relax and begin to get a feel for their sound. Tividad and Tucker’s voices blend nicely when they sing together, showcased on “Plants and Worms” where they accuse, “Your pain is an endless cycle.” They seemed to feel more at ease as the set went on, even breezing through a new song. Girlpool will likely draw comparisons to Bikini Kill era “Riot Grrl” Rock, but that is not entirely fair as the two possess a presence and modern sense of their own. Their self-titled debut EP will be released by Wichita Recordings on November 17th and, at the very least, will grab many listeners attention.
Jenny’s touring band appeared shortly after and the cheers only grew louder as she joined them, beginning the opening bars of Rilo Kiley song “Silver Lining.” Then came three songs off The Voyager, beginning with single and much talked about music video “One Of The Guys,” and all were met with just as much enthusiasm. The new songs take on a bigger life when performed live, and one can begin to see their future as crowd pleasing staples.
Lewis is a master of showmanship, somehow encompassing a peacock strut and laid-back, down to earth demeanor all at once. The crowd was shaking right along with her during “The Moneymaker,” another song from her old band. Things really hit their stride with the rousing performance of “The Next Messiah” off her solo album Acid Tongue. Joined by boyfriend and sometime collaborator Johnathan Rice sharing vocals, the eight plus minute song just fueled the crowd more as it went on. Lewis introduced the title track of The Voyager by referencing the lyric, “I’ve been sippin’ that Kool-Aid at the cosmos.” After a moving performance of the song, she told the crowd she envisioned the next one, “The New You,” being sung to “…the loneliest supreme Metal-head.”
Soon after came three favorites from her album with the Watson Twins, “You Are What You Love,” “Melt Your Heart” and “Rise Up With Fists,” which had the crowd swaying and singing along with vigor. When “A Better Son/Daughter” ended, a song known to stir emotion in long time Rilo Kiley fans, the band left the stage but soon returned for an anthemic encore. With just her keyboardist and one of her guitarists, Lewis gave a captivating performance of Rilo Kiley favorite “With Arms Outstretched.” After the other members joined for campfire sing along “Acid Tongue,” they closed out the show with “She’s Not Me,” another The Voyager track.
Lewis gave the crowd her all from beginning to end. Her voice is effortlessly lovely live and her stage presence is undeniable, even making eye contact and singing directly at concert goers. Though her catalogue touches on different genres, she has the overall vibe of someone who will one day be called Classic Rock. In fact, she could have possibly been the sixth Traveling Wilbury. This tour should not be missed with a set list which spans her entire career nicely. Hearing the tracks live will give old fans a new appreciation for them, while creating new fans out of anyone who attends.