Grandaddy with Earlimart at the Opera House, August 6. Tickets: $17.50. Attendance: 500. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
the temperature inside the opera House seemed to rise a degree with each person who entered. By the time Grandaddy appeared, the pungent odour of sweat and the taste of warm beer suggested the mercury was approaching danger level. Openers Earlimart did the soft-loud Smashing Pumpkins thing very well, even if the vocals were difficult to hear, and didn't overstay their welcome. Before the main event, pre-show videos kept the crowd entertained, and when the skull wearing a Grandaddy baseball hat with guitars as crossbones appeared, everyone knew it was showtime.
Bearded lead strummer Jason Lytle shyly stepped across the stage, ambled up to the battery of electronic gizmos, strapped on his six-string and broke into Laughing Stock. The ethereal, dreamlike sound of the music perfectly complemented Lytle's fragile voice. The way he sang the tunes about man versus machine made his world of robots with feelings seem quite plausible.
Past faves like Hewlett's Daughter and Chartsengrafs from 2000's The Sophtware Slump (V2) were just stunning, particularly when played against the amazing video montage created by Toronto film wizard Matt Burke .
Although Grandaddy have been milling around the underground lo-fi scene since the mid-90s, they've really just hit their stride with their new Sumday (V2) disc. So it was no great shock that songs from Sumday, especially the Pavement-style Stray Dog And The Chocolate Shake, really activated the crowd.
Drummer Aaron Burtch locked down the groove with bassist Kevin Garcia in head-nodding fashion, allowing lead guitarist Jim Fairchild to create the spacey, atmospheric sounds that give the band their edge.
That Grandaddy could remain largely stationary yet have such an impact says a lot about the strength of their compositions.
While many rock groups rely on pure volume to motivate the masses, it takes a special group to move an audience playing soft, storytelling tunes that convey emotions in a subtle way. The killer projected visuals didn't hurt either.