Grandaddy performing live in London
Grandaddy performing live in London, September 2012. © Sebastien Dehesdin/Demotix/Corbis

Jason Lytle has the air of a man who says ‘whatever‘ but never actually means it. Most of the songs he writes for Grandaddy are like that.

Big disingenuous shrugs which initially appear to be easy-going and whimsical, but slowly reveal themselves to be fraught with uncertainty, regret and other stuff men in their 30s feel when girls leave them.

A Grandaddy gig, then, is an occasion to celebrate and reflect a little. Now comfortably part of the alt rock furniture, these five northern Californians (common practice obliges us to mention beards here) have become the new Teenage Fanclub: an excuse for ex-students to get emotional over mid-paced, chugging songs that sound a bit like ELO, and a lot like each other.

Fortunately, they’re excellent songs, ‘Summer Here Kids‘ and ‘The Crystal Lake‘ the judicious will know already, though Grandaddy have rarely played them with such love, gusto and volume, and without their clunky gear packing up at least once.

Focused isn’t a word that sits comfortably with Lytle, but the punchier songs from the recent ‘Sumday‘ album do seem to mirror a certain new discipline, or sorts.

So Grandaddy play all their lovely kind-of hits, show some films involving lumberjacks, kittens and children with beards, and generally prove themselves to be awkward and poignant and grand and anthemic all at once. Their position as Flaming Lips fans’ second-favorite band remains, of course, undisputed.

Grandaddy was formed in 1992 by singer, guitarist and keyboardist Jason Lytle, bassist Kevin Garcia and drummer Aaron Burtch. The group was initially influenced by US punk bands such as Suicidal Tendencies and Bad Brains. Lytle was a former professional skateboarder, who had turned to music after a knee injury forced him to stop skating, working at a sewage treatment works to fund the purchase of equipment, and several of the band’s early live performances were at skateboarding competitions.

© John Mulvey NME June 2003

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