RILO KILEY + Now It's Overhead + Tilly & The Wall @ La Sala Rossa

By Alex Huynh - Losing My Edge - 10/04/04


It's not easy immediately following the Pop Montreal festival, but this bill certainly gave it a good shot and the crowd responded in kind. This was more or less a Saddle Creek show, as Now It's Overhead are currently on it; Tilly and The Wall are on its offshoot label, the unfortunately named Team Love, and headliners Rilo Kiley recorded their new album More Adventurous with Saddle Creek before issues led them to release it on their own label Brute/Beaute, which is distributed by Warner.

Tilly and The Wall are five-piece band that contains more useless members than a hermaphrodite, with two vocalists (one of them doubles as a hand percussionist), a tap dancer, a guitarist/vocalist and a keyboardist making up the roster. For the sake of eye candy (Tilly and The Wall, not the hermie), I suppose that having 2.5 cute indie girls on stage isn't the worse marketing plan ever. That aside, the music was perfectly fine Patridge Family-style pop with the occasional aping of Conor Oberst's vocal style playbook, which would normally make for a good live set if it weren't for the fact that they were unsettlingly cheery, like those overly happy characters in David Lynch movies. I haven't freshened up on my Dante's Inferno as of late to be able to distinguish exactly which level of hell this was, but I was definitely starting to freak out, especially with the Saddle Creek minions bouncing around me just as unnaturally overjoyed.

Athens, GA natives Now It's Overhead provided the perfect antidote for the last set by being criminally boring and bland (again, not sure what level that is). Disappointing, since on the strength of Blackout Curtain (download at and Michael Stipe's pimping, I was expecting a bit more than a flat live performance that no amount of "aw shucks, guys, thanks for coming" could save.

Finally, one of the buzz bands of the moment steps on stage and they launch into "It's a Hit" off the new album. Much has been made about frontwoman Jenny Lewis' "presence" (read: she's hot - for lonely emo kids and Robert Christgau), but more striking was her command over her vocals. Though Rilo Kiley's songs don't always call for the strongest vocal performances, it's almost impossible not to detect its potency right underneath the surface. Their country-tinged side really shines through live and they are energetic and tight enough to maintain a stranglehold on the converted. As for the disinterested observer, he simply headed for the exit.

Losing My Alex hosts Losing My Edge (Sundays from 2-4pm, Tuesdays from 8-10pm) with a neverendingly rotating cast of co-hosts. He's like the Mark E. Smith of CJLO.