The Rapidian Home

Jenny Lewis Draws From Rich Catalog At Meijer Gardens Performance

The former Rilo Kiley singer performed her signature brand of country-adjacent music at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis /Autumn de Wilde

Talk about star power: the video for Jenny Lewis’s song “Just One of the Guys” features Anne Hathaway, Brie Larson, and Kristen Stewart. All three actresses have been nominated for Academy Awards, and two (Hathaway and Larson) have won them. If there were celebrities in attendance during Lewis’s July 10th performance at Frederik Meijer Gardens And Sculpture Park, I didn’t see them. Then again, when a star like her is onstage, who’s looking at the audience?

The evening began with an instrumental set by Hayden Pedigo (described by Pitchfork as a “guitarist, artist, model, and former city council candidate”). Alone onstage, Pedigo played pretty, unhurried songs -- building soundscapes in which nostalgia, yearning, and quiet sadness could be found. Audible over it, at times, was the breeze blowing through leaves.

Jenny O. played next. Her set ranged from low-BPM grooves to songs that nearly approached pop punk. The best achieved an almost hypnotic groove. In them, she sang in an earthy, unaffected voice about abstractions (“I am fascinated with the natural world”) and urged her listeners to embrace life (“cheer up and free your mind”). She had a natural stage presence, only revealing anxiety when it came to chatting with the crowd.

Lewis herself betrayed no anxiety when she followed her band onstage. In contrast to the sparkling red stage décor (and to her sparkling red guitar strap), she wore black and gray. The band launched into “Just One of the Guys,” a song about wanting to fit in with male friends but not quite being able to make the leap, not least because of their habit of growing older while their women don’t (“If I get caught being rude in a conversation/with a child bride on her summer vacation,” she sings, typically wry and sharp). Her voice was country-tinged and soulful. She sounded great. So did her band.

They continued sounding great throughout the evening, which included songs from four of Lewis’s five solo albums (Rabbit Fur Coat, her first, was not represented).  She sang from a raised platform, sat to play keys, danced. Throughout the show, the joy she clearly takes from being onstage was contagious. At times, she seemed to evoke Stevie Nicks (“Red Bull and Hennessy” might have been a lost Nicks song from the 80s), but mostly she sounded like herself: a literate, skeptical woman, a little battered but still hopeful.

The highlight may have been “Acid Tongue.” Lewis played guitar and sang. Her band, their instruments set down, gathered at a microphone behind her and sang backup. They left the stage to heavy applause. Lewis came out afterward and performed the Rilo Kiley song “Silver Lining” solo, then brought the rest of the band for a couple more songs.

Two decades into her career, Lewis has made a wealth of great music. She could easily have performed an entirely different setlist, one equally as strong. And there’ll be more to come. “There’s a little bit of sand left in the hourglass,” she sang. More than a little, I’d say. And there’s more than one bullet left in her chamber.


The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.