Jenny Lewis brings rainbows and euphoria to Union Transfer
I like to think that, even if her job was being the polar opposite of a musician (earplug fitter, I suppose), Jenny Lewis would still find use for a rainbow pantsuit. Her Technicolor garb matches the widescreen sound she’s explored since the last days of Rilo Kiley, right up to this year’s stellar solo effort The Voyager. Lewis brought an abridged version of her lively stage show to our XPoNential Music Festival this past summer, which featured guest appearances by members of Dawes and The Voyager‘s producer, Ryan Adams. Back on her own (and aided by a real wrecking crew of a backing band), Lewis returned on an unseasonably balmy evening for a sold-out show at Union Transfer.
For as big as the scope of Lewis’ music has gotten in the past few years, the night began on an intimate and intense note with a set from Philly’s own Waxahatchee. Katie Crutchfield’s cuttingly personal lyrics were delivered in a stripped-down guitar duo setting, gradually ramping up to include a droning synthesizer. When it came time for Lewis and her band to take the stage, a wash of ocean waves came over the speakers as lights dimly splashed the ombré sunrise backdrop. Rather than beginning with one of the new songs, the set kicked off with a shimmering Rilo Kiley favorite, “Silver Lining.” It’s a testament to Lewis’ consistency and vision that her songs from 2007 (and beyond) sound just as fresh today. A trio of songs from The Voyager followed, including the album’s lead single, “Just One Of The Guys.”
Impressive deep tracks from Acid Tongue and Rabbit Fur Coat (as Lewis put it, “RFC. Not to be confused with KFC.”) along with a well-chosen cover of “Shakedown Street” showed off the band’s versatility as Lewis leapt upon a downstage riser to punctuate her declarations. About a dozen oversized balloons appeared during “A Better Son / Daughter” and were bounced around the audience as the main set transitioned to the encore. After a few acoustic readings of early songs, the band returned for “She’s Not Me,” which they had performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers the night before. A still-euphoric crowd coaxed Lewis (who had already changed into jeans and embarrassingly, by her own admission, one of her own tour shirts) back for a closing rendition of her new album’s title track. A visibly moved Lewis waved goodbye at the end of the show, and if everyone in the place could’ve given her a hug or high-five, they’d have done so in a heartbeat.