Rilo Kiley gets more adventurous and more popular

The country-tinged indie act plays Sonar tonight

Scene

September 08, 2005|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,SUN STAFF

Bands rarely just shrug off mainstream attention.

Yet as Rilo Kiley flirts with larger audiences and major label affiliation, guitarist Blake Sennett could not be more blase about the band's burgeoning popularity.

"I don't know if I feel very famous at all, but sometime kids want an autograph or whatever," Sennett said in a phone interview. "I wanted Snoopy's autograph when I was young, so I don't really know."

Keep in mind:

Rilo Kiley is in the middle of a string of tour dates opening for Coldplay, one of the biggest bands in the world. (It also scheduled a handful of solo headlining gigs, including a show at Sonar tonight.)

The band formed its own label, Brute/Beaute, under Warner Records and released a third full-length album, More Adventurous, last year to critical praise.

Lead singer Jenny Lewis' longing-filled voice and down-home beauty drew Loretta Lynn comparisons from every corner of the indie scene. Along with Ryan Adams, Rilo Kiley is the closest some hipsters have ever let themselves get to country music.

Though he's got to acknowledge all this on some level, Sennett can sulk it up with the best of them. Some of his remarks about the tour could be straight from the mouths of Morrissey, Robert Smith or, fittingly, Chris Martin.

"It's nerve-racking as it is, just playing in front of 10,000 people who don't really give a [hoot]," Sennett said. "You tend to just try to do what you know best."

No matter how much he tries, Sennett can't mope his way around the excitement of playing huge venues with a world-famous band and a massive crowd.

"I think you try to make the best of it and have as much fun as you can," he said. "Playing Madison Square Garden - I don't know when the next time something like that will come my way, so I want to try and enjoy it as much as possible."

The downside of opening a show is that Rilo Kiley had to shave about a half-hour off its normal set, Sennett said. It also keeps the set more rigid, with less room to rotate songs, he said.

Sennett said this is probably Rilo Kiley's last tour on More Adventurous, after which the band might take a breather and focus on releasing solo efforts. He's already got one album with his side project, the Elected, and he said he's in the process of mastering his second. Lewis also finished mastering her solo album, which she reportedly recorded in only six days.

The current tour carries Rilo Kiley across the United States and ends early next month. One of the band's last opening gigs for Coldplay is at the Nissan Pavilion on Sept. 30. Though fans might clap or cheer while Sennett's on stage, he doesn't think it means he's that popular or well-regarded.

"Maybe I just represent the music in that moment, and not necessarily it's about me," he said. "I don't take it real personally or think I'm famous at all. Maybe the music touches some people."

Rilo Kiley plays Sonar Lounge at 8 p.m. today. Sonar is at 407 E. Saratoga St. Tickets are $15. Call 410-327-8333 or visit www.sonarlounge.com.

For more club events, see Page 26.

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