Jenny Lewis and Watson Twins – ACL’s Moody Theatre
by Dan Radin
Since her emergence as a child TV star, Jenny Lewis has enjoyed a steady and studded career in entertainment. Her fans have followed her from Corn Pops commercials to Growing Pains to Rilo Kiley to The Postal Service, and now into a solo career that both reminisces on and builds on her past successes.
The Vegas-born singer struck a pose early and often during her Saturday night set at Moody Theater. A silvery, glittery Lewis glided across a pink and blue patterned stage that could have dressed an ancient Aztec gender-reveal party. She carried the swagger of a calm career entertainer who had nothing to prove to her audience, confidently guiding her light pink mic cord with her free hand when she wasn’t holding an instrument.
Lewis’s experience was more evident by her musical maturity. Her seasoned mic technique made every word audible and red lipstick visible at all times. The sound was primarily carried by the steady drum set and Lewis’ relaxed voice. Her piano ballads felt just as solid as her upbeat foot tappers, thanks to a tight rhythm section and spot-on male/female backing vocals. Soft synths and strings added an extra Lana Del Rey vibe to acoustic songs that felt fairly representative of her new album, “On the Line.”
The gentler songs on the new album influenced the speed of the show, which slowed the pace a bit drastically at points. Lewis opened on the piano with soft-pop “Heads Gonna Roll” and “Wasted Youth” before bringing out “The Big Guns.” Lewis visibly delivered more effort on lyric-heavy “Hollywood Lawn,” which the audience clearly didn’t know but met her strong performance with high approval.
“We’re gonna play a new version of a song for you. Get out your vapes” Lewis joked during an opening reggae beat-turned “Voyager.” Wild clapping after the song carried into the intro of the following “Do Si Do.” Overheard by a fan: “She just did a reggae version of Voyager. That was f*cking awesome.”
Dozens of beach ball-sized pink and blue balloons dropped from the ceiling into the audience towards the end of the set. One of the night’s best moments came during Lewis’s long last note of Rilo Kiley’s “With Arms Outstretched,” as an arm-extended Lewis punched away a stray pink balloon with an amused downward grin.
In her encore, Lewis picked up the receiver of a ringing neon-lit rotary telephone on stage. On the line were Lewis’ friends and opening act, the Watson Twins. Lewis invited them back on stage to back her for a full-band “Rise Up with Fists!!” and “See Fernando.” After, another stage phone call came courtesy of Austin native (and Spoon frontman) Britt Daniel, who then appeared next to Lewis. All musicians gathered tightly around a single condenser mic to accompany Lewis on acoustic guitar, as they harmonized with a closing “Acid Tongue.”
Lewis didn’t seem like she was promoting a new album as much as she was continuing a conversation with people she’s known for years. The concert had some of her showbiz glitz, but in reality, Lewis was just on the line catching up with old friends.
867-5309/Jenny – Tommy Tutone (recording)
Heads Gonna Roll
The Big Guns – Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
Silver Lining – Rilo Kiley
Happy – Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
Do Si Do
She’s Not Me
Red Bull & Hennessy
Just One of the Guys
On the Line
Little White Dove
Born Secular – Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
With Arms Outstretched – Rilo Kiley
Rise Up With Fists!!