It was a triumph of the shambolic at the Horseshoe Tuesday, with two bands seemingly on the verge of a meltdown but still managing to pull their sets from the fire.
Lincoln, Nebraska, sad sacks Bright Eyes had their epic moments of yelping, but it was when they were at their most frail that they were best.
Modesto, California, headliners Grandaddy were no more stable but managed to hold things together admirably over the course of an hour. With a film of space-age windmills scrolling in the background, the quintet slugged through tunes from their grandiose Sophtware Slump album with no flash and even less enthusiasm.
Coming off like a more ragged Neil Young (if Young gazed at his shoes even more than he already does), Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle pulled his grimy cap down low and barely peeked out at the audience.
Road fatigue was obvious. "One fucking day in Canada and we can't get that little ummph," Lytle moaned. "You should kick our ass when we get offstage."
The two-minute breaks between songs didn't help momentum, and the band only seemed to get into it during a flailing run through Pavement's Here. Despite their low energy, Grandaddy were still successful at recreating their album's ragged stomp, with the plinking of Tim Dryden's keyboard ringing through.
As a half-assed run-through, it sounded surprisingly solid. Who knows what would be possible with a little more conviction?
GRANDADDY, with BRIGHT EYES, at the Horseshoe, July 25. Tickets: $8. Attendance: 400. Rating: NNN