Jenny Lewis reunited with Rilo Kiley guitarist Blake Sennett over the weekend at the Rock ‘N’ Rock Relief virtual benefit concert for a performance of “Let Me Back In.” It was their first time playing together since a one-off rendition of “Portions for Foxes” at Coachella in 2015. Inevitably, it raised hopes in the Rilo Kiley fan community that a reunion might finally be in the works.
Rilo Kiley have been completely inactive since their conclusion of their Under the Blacklight tour in 2008. It was an unfortunate time to pull the plug since they were finally on the brink of true mainstream success after years of slogging it out on the club circuit. Prior to Under the Blacklight, they’d never seen an album go higher than Number 161 on the Billboard 200. But Under the Blacklight reached Number 22, singles like “Silver Lining” and “Breakin’ Up” were connecting with fans outside their cult, and the tour hit venues as big as the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles along with Bonnaroo and Coachella. (Here’s video of the group playing “Portions for Foxes” at Bonnaroo in 2008, which turned out to be one of their last major shows.)
The exact details of the Rilo Kiley breakup never fully came to light, but Sennett said that things got pretty ugly behind the scenes. “I just felt like there was a lot of deception, disloyalty, greed, and things I don’t really want to submit myself to,” he said in 2011. “I had related that frustration to music but I just thought, ‘I’m not going to put myself in that position again,’ so I said, ‘Fuck that, I can’t do this anymore.’”
That same year, he said a reunion was hard to foresee. “I would say that if Rilo Kiley were a human being he’s probably laying on his back in a morgue with a tag on his toe,” he said. “Now, I see movies where the dead get up and walk. And when they do that, rarely do good things happen.”
Four years later, the corpse of Rilo Kiley came partway back to life when Sennett sat in with Jenny Lewis at Coachella. And Jenny Lewis has used Rilo Kiley drummer Jason Boesel on her recent solo tours. Two years ago, she was asked by NME if she was open to a Rilo Kiley reunion. “Sure!” she said. “I did a Postal Service reunion tour a couple of years ago, so I’m open to anything these days. My mantra is ‘Yes.'”
Any Rilo Kiley reunion is probably, at the very least, a couple of years away. Jenny Lewis is the opening act on the upcoming Harry Styles arena tour. Dates are on the books for this summer, but it’s easy to imagine that getting bumped to 2022. But if her “mantra is ‘yes'” and she’s made peace with Sennett and is already touring with Boesel, it seems like only a matter of time before bassist Pierre de Reeder joins in and the Rilo Kiley corpse comes completely back to life.