To quote solo artist Becky Stark as she opened for Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, “I love Spaceland. And I also love planet earth.” Though she was referring to the tiny Silverlake venue, club Spaceland, Stark exuded an infectious giddiness that led up to Lewis and the twins’ performance. Going back to where it all started, Lewis scheduled the surprise show at the place where her other band, Rilo Kiley, had their first live performance before their hardcore indie following and sell out shows. Needless to say, RK’s fan base has spread to Lewis’ side project along with some new alt-country editions. After opening comedian Tig and guitar-strumming, flower-wearing Stark entertained an ever-growing packed house, Lewis finally came on to play for a wall-to-wall crowd of sweaty, dehydrated bodies. Once the audience saw the glimmer of the girls’ gold sequin dresses, and the harmonizing intro to “Run Devil Run” began, there was no better place to be.
The Spaceland show started out with much of the same lineup as other shows on the Rabbit Fur Coat tour. Playing the perfect knee slapping opening song, “Big Guns,” followed by the favorite, “You Are What You Love,” it was clear the band knew which pacing worked for their stripped down, country sound. They could put a hoedown to shame with “Charging Sky,” and were unafraid to loose any energy when leaving Lewis alone with her guitar during “Rabbit Fur Coat.” Singing every song from her debut solo album, Lewis allowed each note to sweep over her, fooling anyone who saw the emotion on her face and the honest sigh in her voice, that she has been singing these same songs almost every night before. The intimate setting heightened the goose bump intensity of Lewis’ desperately sweet sounding cries that soak up the twins pitch perfect backup vocals giving both the album and concert the authentic folk sound it needs.
Her constant desire to experiment with new genres and music added pleasant surprises of newly written material. Her latest song, “Fernando,” was performed for the first time that night. It had a Vegas/country sound with enough catchy pop lyrics and choreographed dance steps to make you want to sing along as Lewis and the twins chanted, “If you wanna go where they chain up the sun seek Fernando.” Other new editions included a hauntingly parallel sounding cover of “I Met Him On A Sunday,” by Laura Nyro and LaBelle, whose album was a strong inspiration for Fur Coat. And to everyone’s appreciation, the band finally did a live cover of “Handle Witch Care” with help from the Watson twins and lead guitarist Jonathan Rice. Rice also lent his quietly beautiful voice to the other new feisty tune, “Jack Killed Mom,” and gospel encore, “Cold Jordon.” A song about God never sounded so hot as when Lewis and Rice sang the chorus together on one mic.
The club also allowed for a more relaxed, hootenanny ambiance with Lewis making impromptu decisions on where to sing a song, like choosing to make her way off the stage and into the middle of the crowd to sing “It Wasn’t Me.” With smiles and cheers surrounding her, Lewis did her best to circle around, singing out through her tiny frame to the back of Spaceland.
After hours of sweat, hundreds of photo flashes, swigs of beer and good ol’ country music with an indie twist, young Hollywood hipsters left Spaceland and reluctantly came back down to planet earth.