Reviews

Take Offs and Landings

08/14/2001 | Agouti Music | www.agoutimusic.com | Live Show Preview
Another Friday night at Bottom of the Hill. Nestled in Potrero Hill, the venue tends to attract Gen Xers, and tonight was no different.

I was there to see Call and Response, but little did I know that Rilo Kiley would be there as well. There was definitely going to be some ear candy tonight.

Starting things off were Billy Midnight. The only all-male band of the evening, they were more rock and roll than indie, but they had their moments. There was not anything that set them apart from the 1500 other guitar-based bands that they sound like. Their versatility allows them to open for just about anyone, so it is quite possible I will get to see them again. Certainly there is nothing wrong with their music.

A 45 minute set was plenty for me, and after a 25 minute break, Rilo Kiley took the stage. This was the peak of the evening for me.

Rilo Kelly is a four-piece, female-led band. Jenny Lewis was sharp, especially on "85." Every time I go to San Jose and take Highway 85, I am going to be reminded of this amazing song. I closed my eyes and had no idea where I was, because the song simply took me away, as Calgon did during the commercials of 1980s daytime soap operas.

They are nice people too, speaking with anyone who wanted to give them words. Guitarist Blake Sennett had the cutest shirt. It had a kitten on it. What more can I say?

Forty minutes was not enough, but such is life as an opening act. After a half-hour break, Call and Response took the stage. Here is a band that holds its destiny. They can be as successful as they want to be. Their style is simple and crosses many genres.

The stage hardly held the five members and various instruments. Perhaps it was a marketing ploy, or maybe I was looking into it too much, but the three female members were flanked across the front of the stage, obstructing the view of the male guitarist and drummer. They are all talented at what they do, so it is a shame not to be able to see all the members unless you stand on the side of the stage.

Their second song, "Stars Have Eyes," is a personal favorite. They effortlessly worked their way through it. This was one of many tracks that sounded eerily similar to the CD. Usually a band does this live when they are trying to make it to the next level. More power to them; they deserve whatever they get.

With five people playing instruments and singing, it would be easy to create unpleasant cacophonies, yet such was not the case here. They played together very well, never stepping on each others' musical toes.

They finished their regular set with "All Night Long," which would have been better if it were a Lionel Richie cover. After the song the women of the band got into a Double Dare-like huddle before performing a pseudo-encore.

At 55 minutes, including the encore, I was left wanting more. With last call a good half hour away, I thought they had time to play more songs, but what do I know?

Call and Response sound a lot like Honeypot live, which means nothing if you've never seen Honeypot. I'll put it this way. They sounded a lot like Call and Response do now, only with more distortion and less keyboard.

I think Call and Response is making one last push for superstardom, and it wouldn't surprise me if they make it. Rilo Kiley has the potential to be big, but their talent is too strong for the mainstream audience. Billy Midnight will be playing in casino bars for 40 years if they want to.