Ten years ago, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins (Chandra and Leigh), collaborated on one of my all-time favorite albums, Rabbit Fur Coat. Music has a way of marking the important events, eras, and changes in our lives. I remember listening to Rabbit Fur Coat on my first generation Ipod, while working on schedules in the attractions office at Universal Studios. I was still in the Back to the Future building, listening to Jenny, but the BTTF theme music was invading her vocals. My first marriage was starting to crumble, I had an awesome apartment in Pasadena, and I didn't yet know that my mom had cancer. In fact, today, February 4th, marks the eighth anniversary of my mom's death. It's hard to believe how much my life has changed in ten years.
Last Friday night, Dan and I headed to the Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Hollywood for the Rabbit Fur Coat 10th Anniversary Concert. This was my first time attending a concert in a church. At first, I was surprised that the venue allowed Jenny Lewis to play here. Have they listened to her lyrics? A church was a surprising, unusual, and delightful venue choice.
Also delightful, was the program. I've never received a program at a concert, but the theatre lover in me, was all kinds of excited. Cool touch Lewis!
I like surprises, but even more, I like to know what to expect. It makes it easier to plan those bathroom breaks. I'm guessing that people are expected to go pee before coming to church, because the bathroom situation was lacking. Two stalls for women + sold-out enormous church = a patience test. Luckily everyone was so excited to see Jenny, that the chatter kept the line happy. It seemed like everyone else in line had traveled from another state for the show. The enthusiasm was unparalleled.
The seating was general admission, so with the exception of pews that were roped off for VIP's, it was a free-for-all to find a good spot. Dan noticed that the balcony was open, so we rushed up stairs. Here was our view.
The view was good, but the sound was just okay. This is not an ideal concert venue. It's beautiful though. I love the chandeliers.
M. Ward, who produced Rabbit Fur Coat, was the opener. I'm not familiar with his music and since the sound was wonky, it was hard to hear most of the lyrics. The venue worked best with quiet, soft songs.
Speaking of soft, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins kicked off the Rabbit Fur Coat album with an acapella version of Run Devil Run, sung from the back entrance of the church as they walked up the aisle to the stage. They ended the album by exiting the same way, while singing the reprise of Happy. It couldn't have been a better use of the venue to bookend the songs on the album. They did Rabbit Fur Coat in its entirety, with one brief costume change before Lewis sang the title song, alone on stage. M Ward joined in on their cover of The Traveling Wilbury's Handle with Care. The energy in the audience was positively electric.
After the intermission, Lewis continued playing for another hour with a set filled with songs from her solo albums. She played hits like Silver Lining, See Fernando, and Just One of the Guys. She threw in a new, unreleased song, which made the audience go wild. Jenny Lewis has a very loyal and vocal fan base. After nearly every song, several people in the audience would shout out "I love you Jenny" above the applause. At one point, an excited fan managed to get on stage and have a brief conversation, before security hauled her off. Lewis handled it like a pro and was kind to the fan, making everyone love her even more.
My favorite moment of the show came in the second act, when Lewis climbed up on a box and sang The Voyager, the title track from her most recent album. Lewis has the most pure and beautiful voice. I could listen to her sing anything, but then she goes and writes these insanely perfect lyrics. I'm just in awe of her talent. And hey, as a kid, I totally obsessed over The Wizard and Troop Beverly Hills. I know, apples to oranges, but I've been a long time fan of all things Jenny Lewis!