Grandaddy | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Grandaddy's obsession with run-down technology--the band's 2000 disc, The Sophtware Slump (V2), features two songs about an abandoned, alcoholic robot--echoes Radiohead's dystopian outlook but subtracts the dyspepsia. Like the word robot itself, front man Jason Lytle's version of the future is quaint and homely, the way yesterday's tomorrows look to us today. Recorded at Lytle's home in Modesto, California, the band's fourth full-length, Sumday, retains the basement-tinkered feel of past albums, but Lytle has streamlined his DIY ELO: guitar, bass, and drums now lock into a flat, moderate chug, with Casio chirps and low-tech bleeps punctuating rather than redirecting the songs. He's also given his sense of wonder freer rein: in "The Group Who Couldn't Say," sheltered white-collar drones are overwhelmed by their first real contact with the natural world; and "Now It's On," in which Lytle sings, "Bust the lock off the front door / Once you're outside you won't want to hide anymore," is triumphant in the spirit of late-model Flaming Lips. But the slackers in these songs always seem to shrug off success an instant before they realize they actually had a shot at it. As the title of "OK With My Decay" suggests, Lytle's so content singing among the ruins that he has a tendency to jog tunefully in place--but that's just his way of staying in character. After all, being a slacker was less about laziness than misdirected energy: staying up till five in the morning to toy with an art project you'd eventually scrap, then sleeping through your job interview. Sunday, August 3, 7:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chugrad McAndrews.

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