Breakthrough follow-ups by Rilo Kiley and Devendra Banhart bring to mind Tommy Tutone’s rejoinder to his one-off hit scrawled across bathroom walls, a song called "Dumb But Pretty" Given that the former band's Under the Blacklight
in these pages for cheap concerns, while the latter performer's Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon sank
in waters equally shallow, only the L.A. quartet’s and the L.A. hippie’s charisma seemed intact. Last night, they squared off across town from one another.
In true Venus vs. Mars fashion, the (young) ladies turned out en masse at Stubb’s for Jenny Lewis’ Rilo Kiley, while Tolkienesque beards swept the floor at La Zona Rosa for Devendra Banhart and his troupe of Sixties throwbacks. Say what you will about both acts’ recent platters – tawdry Black Light
and spacey Smokey
– but both discs eschew the accomplished polish of their immediate predecessors for simple good times. Live, they popped and rollicked with all the seriousness of the Spice Girls.
Seeing as these headlining sets began within minutes of each other – 9pm for RK, 9:15pm for DB – decisions had to be made. Assuming Black Light
would take up the front half of Rilo Kiley’ shorter performance, while Banhart would most likely weave his much longer Thunder
throughout a scheduled two-hour harmonic convergence, beginning the evening on Red River appeared a sound bet. Lewis and company were anything but safe, however.