By Xin-Rui Lee, Staff Writer; photo by Kat Vlasova, Staff Photographer
It’s been over a decade since Grandaddy properly disbanded, the official announcement coming after the release of their fourth — and supposedly farewell — studio album “Just Like The Fambly Cat.” In the interim, a few side projects cropped up here and there. Some highly coveted reunion shows were played back in 2012 and primary songwriter and frontman Jason Lytle hid out in the mountains at one point, but no real effort to revive what was a stagnant creative space for the alt-rockers came to fruition. Then, 2017 came a knockin’.
Back with a new album entitled “Last Place,” Granddaddy has just kicked off a tour that will take them from Israel to Italy, starting with three consecutive shows in New York City. It must also be said that during an interview conducted by Uncut earlier this year, Lytle disclosed that a two-album deal had been signed — so fans can be rest assured that this isn’t a freak one off endeavor — and a follow up album is yet to come.
New York fans were lucky to catch Grandaddy at their sold out show at Rough Trade on the evening of March 2, just one day ahead of the official release of “Last Place” as well as the last installment of three local shows. The cozy venue was befitting of such a reunion, the intimate setting proving facilitative of the warm banter between band and fiercely loyal fans. A member of the audience is overheard explaining how they had attended both Grandaddy’s shows the two nights before, a theme that didn’t seem uncommon amongst the older audience members.
Though they remained — for the most part — rooted to their respective spots on stage and wore neutral facial expressions throughout the show, Grandaddy delivered a solid performance for an audience that was frankly hard to disappoint. They opened with fan favorites from their back catalogues like “Hewlett’s Daughter” from 2000’s “Software Slumps,” followed by “El Caminos In The West” and “Laughing Stock.” They then dove into new tracks from their latest album like “Way We Won’t” and “Evermore,” the audience proving themselves already familiar with the lyrics.
The show opener was the Brooklyn-based rustic psych outfit Kinsey, during which singer/drummer/songwriter Nick Kinsey prefaced Grandaddy’s appearance by calling them “the original beanie wearing bearded psychedelic Americana band.” His comments seemed as sentimental as the audience appeared.
“They changed my life, and they obviously changed yours too,” Kinsey said.
During Grandaddy’s set, scenes of sprawling landscapes with pixelated squares raining down were projected in the background. Other images included glitches over farmland, videos of tractors and wooded expanses with a video of a horse layered over them. These were all oddly suited to Grandaddy’s blend of dirt-honest lyricism and fuzzy proggy instrumentals, as though they’ve got something to say about the encroachment of modernity upon nature.
Audience members shout song requests to which Lytle responds with a languid and firm refusal before launching into “The Crystal Lake.” Another audience member shouted a demand for Modesto rock, Lytle bowed his head to his keyboard and grinned softly. mumbling into his microphone.
“Oh bless you, bless you,” Lytle said.
Rounding off their main set with “He’s Dumb, He’s Simple, He’s The Pilot,” they returned for a brief two-song encore of “The Boat is in the Barn” and “Summer Here Kids.”
Email Xin-Rui Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.