SAN FRANCISCO -- Three songs into their set at Slim's, Grandaddy ambled
into an updated version of the America tune "I Need You," a melancholy song that
perfectly suited the lo-fi band at this particularly lo-fi moment.
The harmony-laden version worked nicely as a tribute to the '70s folk-rockers. Still, it
could have just as easily functioned as a plea to the largely inattentive audience that had
gathered at the rock club last Friday night.
Playing to a knot of devoted fans up front and an indifferent, cocktail-swilling mass in the
back, Grandaddy plugged in, cranked their amps all the way up to "3" and put their best
lo-fi feet forward. Though their set ended after only eight tunes, Grandaddy's
perseverance rang through clearly on this night.
Despite the obstacles, the Modesto, Calif.-based quintet opted to pay no mind to the
neverminds, working through a host of slow-core tracks from their recent debut LP,
Under The Western Freeway.
Many of the songs, such as "Laughing Stock" and "Everything Beautiful Is Far Away,"
wistful affairs that dealt with opportunities never presented, suited the subtle rock
performance. Others broke the mood with samples seemingly swiped from early '80s
video games and trilling keyboard lines that offset what otherwise sounded like
Wearing a blue-and-white mesh "Sea World" baseball cap, singer/guitarist Jason Lytle
and his bandmates -- drummer Aaron Burtch, guitarist Jim Fairchild, bassist Kevin Garcia
and keyboardist Tim Dryden -- made their way calmly through tunes from the new album.
Yet Lytle was hardly the most charismatic of performers.
He spent much of his stage time pondering his foot pedals. To his credit, he did loosen
up enough at one point to poke fun at the flat-tire flopping sound of a sample from the
tune "Collective Dreamwish of Upper Class Elegance."
"My dad says that sound is like an overweight lady with a pair of corduroys on, walking
down the sidewalk," he said.
For those who had come expecting something more forceful from the fivesome,
Grandaddy did reserve a few choice numbers. Perhaps sensing the kids wanted to rock,
the group worked up some energy and excitement on its final two songs of the night, the
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Grandaddy/Summer_Here_Kids.ram">"Summer Here Kids"
Here Kids"(RealAudio excerpt) and the raucous "Street Bunny."
As the houselights went up after the eight-song set, fans such as 20-year-old Janet
Kakehashi, a junior at San Francisco State University, yearned for a few more songs and
a few less noisy patrons.
"Grandaddy [are] so great," Kakehashi said. "I did want them to play longer. I know I'm a
lo-fi geek, but I just can't see why these people are here if all they want to do is talk. I
think there's enough bars in San Francisco to do that in."