Jenny and Johnny - Lincoln Hall (9/13/2010)
reviewed by John Ronzani
There are innumerable factors, independent to each individual, that will determine what a show will mean to her/him. The people within your immediate radius. How many beers you've had. If you're with friends, are you constantly peeking over to check on their enjoyment? And these examples are independent of the actual show. Is the band tight? How many beers have they had? Do they seem to be enjoying themselves, or are they going through the motions? Are they interacting with the crowd, or are we seemingly non-existent?
One factor that has been of particular note for me lately is "the album tour." You know how these go. Band comes out, plays 95% (or more) of the soon to be or just released album and then throws the crowd a bone, be it hit or fan favorite. The band can absolutely kill an album show. They can be tight, energetic, and seemingly happy to be in your town. But ultimately, if I'm at the album show, I feel as though I'm just checking songs off a list. And for me, predictability is a significant detriment to the concert going experience.
This brings us to Jenny (Lewis) and Johnny (Johnathan Rice). Their album, "I'm Having Fun Now" was released on August 31. In the two weeks prior to their date at Lincoln Hall, I tirelessly familiarized myself with the new songs. I wish I had not done this. About 4 songs into the set it was apparent that I was attending an album show. Had I attended the show without knowledge of the new material, the show would have no doubt been more exciting. The harmonies on the album are beautiful. The lyrics, with the exception of a few questionable moments are top notch (as is a general rule on any of Lewis' projects). And as the title suggests, the fun the real life lovers had making this record is palpable. It's wonderful and romantic, and frankly, makes me feel a bit fuzzy inside.
So why then, night after night, churn through a hard-lined set list essentially stripping some of the charm and fun away. I hate for this to sound like a negative review. It's not. Jenny and Johnny's harmonies on stage were as strong as the album. The songs were tight. And really, it's just great to see Jenny Lewis in person. She has this sexy mojo on stage that no one in indie rock comes close to matching. I have zero complaints about the sound or energy of the show. However, the couple's on stage interactions were sparse. They put on a very workmanlike performance, churning through song after song off of Fun, and throwing the crowd a bone late in the set with "The Next Messiah" off of Acid Tongue. And instead of ending with at least one single song off of her amazing 2006 album, Rabbit Fur Coat, or at least fan favorite "Acid Tongue", the two instead played an un-ironic cover of "Love Hurts."
It's one of those situations as a fan where yeah, it was a bit of a let down, but you're still glad you went. I'll take a night with Jenny and Johnny...well Jenny (let's be honest, the crowd wasn't exactly shouting for Rice songs) over most other things. And for now I'll just bide my time until the career spanning tour arrives in town. Probably next summer, assuming my touring acumen is in tune.
Pitchfork Scale: 6.1/10