the loud bassoon concert scene

Grandaddy, Bright Eyes, Plastic Hi-Fi @ Double Door, Chicago, USA
27 July 2000

Having missed their last Chicago appearance back in May, I was determined to catch Grandaddy this time around. Their music may be best described (and, of course, overgeneralized) as "Mercury Rev + Trans-era Neil Young + a bit of ELO."

Grandaddy had hit Schuba's back in May, then made a mad dash over to Europe for a couple of months, heading back to the States to continue support for their grand Sophtware Slump album. Now, the Double Door isn't Chicago's best place to see a show … it's an irrititatingly long and narrow venue, though the sound's fine.

Me liked.

Bolstered by an overhead projector showing the coolest movies possibly e'er seen at a show (especially the opening longshot of a flank of Californian windmills), the band played just the right amount of time, arguably showing signs of tour dread. Grandaddy's the kind of band whose on-stage demeanor could be read as either world-weariness or cool-aloofness.

Regardless, the set was comprised largely of a choice selection from both their long-players (Under The Western Freeway being their first, which is roughly The Bends to Sophtware's OK Computer).

Singer Jason Lytle switched off between keys and guitar throughout the set, and his mysterious hunched stance came into play when he'd trigger his vocals or other samples … a couple behind us were fooled more than once. The single "Hewlett's Daughter" was introduced as "God-forsaken," which I'm really hoping was because they're simply tired of playing it, not because it's got single-potential and people have latched onto it.

Set closer "So You'll Aim Toward The Sky" was a highlight … think Flaming Lips covering "Time" by the Alan Parsons Project. Was that last sentence a bit too rock critic-y? Short answer: yes. Best to move along.

Grandaddy often go down the same general path as Flaming Lips, which ain't necessarily a bad thing, and they have a touch of "one-songwriter syndrome," wherein their appeal peters out under the weight of an overall sameyness. That said, I always welcome themes like androids and tech alienation. And bonus points for the pre-show tape being classic Bee Gees.

When I first got to the show, a kid sittin' next to us in fact didn't really know who Grandaddy was, but instead was raving about Bright Eyes in overly-reverent tones, describing them as "emo," although ultimately it wasn't typical "math rock" or anything else you might nervously associate with that tag.

This kid wasn't nearly the only Bright Eyes follower, as a fair amount of the crowd cleared after their set, but admittedly my brain latched to absolutely none of their music. Tough to describe: vaguely like the Danielson Famile, maybe, but without the more singsongy elements? I dunno, I'm out of my element on this one, so will pass to keep things level.

Openers Plastic Hi-Fi were the quintessential "rock band" parody … unfortunately, I don't think they were in on the joke. Not a bad thing, maybe? Yeah, probably, but would've probably been better off with 45 minutes of mind-clearing silence. Competent, yet completely perfunctory and dull, complete with G.E. Smith-style facial mugging … "Back to the Bars," as Todd Rundgren would say. Wait, I guess it was a bar. Huh?

set taken from the grandaddy egroups list … not necessarily in order

laughing stock
first movement/message send…
hewlett's daughter
am 180
underneath the weeping willow
for the dishwasher
non-phenomenal lineage
the crystal lake
miner at the dial-a-view
so you'll aim toward the sky
?????? (not Pavement's "Here", btw)
summer here kids

Review by Bradley A. Milton