Sometime back in May, my friend Kristy needed someone to go see Jenny Lewis with her on July 27th. I volunteered right away, not because I particularly love Jenny Lewis, but because sometimes it’s nice to go to a show as a casual fan and experience things from a different perspective.
That makes sense to me.
My familiarity with Jenny Lewis is definitely way more than the average person, but I haven’t really followed her solo career much after the first album. There was a time in my life (early 20s) when I REALLY liked her band, Rilo Kiley. The Execution of All Things got a lot of rotation in my house, but that was also back when I was really into indie rock, hipster folk, twee, and basically anything that Barsuk, Saddle Creek, Kill Rock Stars and Matador Records was releasing. If it was something that the Pitchfork critics splooged onto their polyester shirts over, I would listen to it. It was a sonically confusing and cold time in my life where I wasn’t really listening to music that I was emotionally connecting with. But Rilo Kiley was the exception because they made me feel happy, and I will always associate good things with them because this was back when I still had a decent relationship with my family, I hadn’t met Christina yet, and my job at the Meat Place hadn’t yet fractured my psyche. OMG, 2002, I miss you. Sometimes.
I’d never gotten the chance to see them though, so seeing Jenny Lewis was the obvious next best thing.
Jenny is to Kristy what Jonny Craig was to me. Jenny is her ginger crush, the one who makes her swoon and fan-girl and I REALLY WANTED TO SEE THIS HAPPEN.
We started off the night at Grist House Brewing down the street from Mr. Small’s. Luckily, I am starting to be OK with some beers, so I was able to order a wheat beer thing without looking like frightened lamb. I think. Kristy likes to drink those really dark beers. I don’t think I will ever be on her level. It doesn’t matter how many times she says, “Bitch, get on my level.” I’m on Basic Beer Bitch levels forever, I think.
Finally, it was time to get in line at Mr. Small’s, where this majestic moment happened:
There were lots of older people in line with us, so I made sure to take pictures of them to text to Henry, who was probably like, “Figures. The one show I don’t go to, my People are there.”
Once we got inside, there was a really scary, tense moment where Kristy thought she lost her ticket, which would have been pretty crazy considering I actually DID lose my ticket. (Luckily, I realized this the night before, and Kristy had an extra one for me.)
We were one of the first people inside, so we got a good spot right in front of the stage, which almost never happens because the shows I typically go to are too dangerous for little old ladies like me. But mostly because Henry is always with me and he is like FUCK TO THE NO when it comes to getting up close. I remember one of the first festivals I went to with Henry, I pulled him up really close to the stage for Sugarcult and he tried to assault some teenage boy.
“What?!” Henry shouted in defense. “He pushed me!”
“Because that’s what people do near the stage! You can’t push him back, he’s a kid!” I yelled. Fuck, it was hilarious. Now I feel like Henry would let a body drop on my neck just out of spite.
“What? This is just what people do near the stage,” I can hear him saying smugly.
Anyway, I’m much less afraid of the stage at outdoor shows than ones in small venues.
The opening band was the Apache Relay. I was really into half of their set, but the other half had my mind drifting off into the ethers. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy them! I liked the heavier songs. The singer reminded me of my friend Wonka and I appreciated that he punctuated certain words with hand motions. And the guitarist in front of me reminded me of Janna with a beard, so that was entertaining in and of itself.
After their set, Kristy and I were entertained by two guys behind us who embroiled in some heavy MIT-caliber discourse which evolved into the possibility of attaching babies to remote-controlled helicopters and how they’re surprised it hasn’t already happened yet and maybe I’m just really that dumb, but I was like WTF would be the scientific purpose of that?! Maybe I missed a key component of the conversation because you know me and the drifting off into aforementioned ethers.
Shortly after 9:20, Jenny came out with a glass of red wine in her hand, and how can you not love that!?
FUN FACT: When Chooch was born, I gave him Henry’s last name instead of mine because I thought Riley Kelly sounded too much like Rilo Kiley and I’ve always kind of had a hard time saying it because my tongue turns lame, so I couldn’t imagine a lifetime of having to announce “Here is my son, Riley Kelly!” I just said it in my head and it took me two tries because I kept wanting to say Riley Kiley.
Literally no one has ever understood this except for Kristy and my other Jenny Lewis-loving friend, Gina (WHO WAS THERE THAT NIGHT BUT I DIDN’T SEE HER!!). Because I almost always have to say, “You know. The band. Rilo Kiley. RILO KILEY? The girl from Troop Beverly Hills? Her band? Also, one of the kids from Salute Your Shorts? HAVE YOU BEEN IN A COMA!?”
Friends, this is what happens when you only listen to the radio. You don’t understand 85% of my dumb music references. (Maybe that’s a good thing?)
This crowd was calm as FUCK. Aside from the one lesbian to my right who would periodically hemorrhage “JENNY, YOU’RE HAAAAAWT!” and then resume swing-dancing with her girlfriend, there was no pushing, shoving, no circle pits, no walls of death. It was a nice change of pace for me! And even standing three heads back from the stage, I wasn’t sweating because people were actually giving each other personal space, and this was unfathomable to me. It has clearly been a LONG time since I’d gone to an “adult” concert.
Even from just a casual fan’s perspective, Jenny Lewis killed it. How refreshing to see a female performer who doesn’t have to rely on twerking, costume changes or being suspended in the air to hold people’s attention. Jenny kept everyone captivated with just her presence and flawless voice.
Literally, this drunk couple was the only bad part of the whole night. Thankfully, they waited until the last two songs before shoving and trampling their way to the front, where they proceeded to chug their cans of cheap beer, block everyone’s view with their Wall of Douche, and CHAT LOUDLY. That is my BIGGEST PET PEEVE at shows. OK, I get that everyone wants to be close, everyone wants the best view, everyone is the #1 fan. Whatever. That’s normal. I get it. But if you’re just at a show to get drunk and talk with your friends, stay the fuck at the bar. Everyone around us was visibly annoyed and bristled at these assholes, who honest-to-god kept looking around and smirking at everyone. Like, “Oh, are we in the way? HAHAHAHAHA.”
But, they didn’t deter Kristy from having her heart pumped full of ginger beauty. These are important moments in life, and I was so honored to get to be there while Kristy experienced pure music nirvana. And Jenny played some songs that I knew in spite of me not following her solo career, so it was a win for all!
Now I’m going to make her see Emarosa with me. <3
Did I mention that Kristy made me a motivational poster with adjustable lips for Henry? SHE IS AWESOME.