Jason Lytle Channels His Inner Outer Space

July 13th, 2009

Jason Lytle – The Bowery Ballroom – July 11, 2009

Jason Lytle
I remember seeing Grandaddy many years ago and being struck when they took the stage. This was a band that had the trucker’s caps and scruffy beards of a potential Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band playing gorgeous, otherworldly post-apocalyptic pop songs. I had the same impression on Saturday night when Grandaddy’s frontman, Jason Lytle, played The Bowery. Lytle’s voice was an ethereal rocket ship as he performed songs off his new solo release, Yours Truly, the Commuter. There was nothing esoteric about the tunes—love songs mostly, but sung like love songs from outer space, the outer space of slowly drifting orbits far and wide, devoid of any human contact. Between songs, prerecorded piano pieces were played, like a bizarro movie soundtrack, and then Lytle’s songs would come in: slow and moody to begin, utterly hypnotic then building to liftoff, leaving the atmosphere.

Brooklyn’s Hymns opened the show. It’s a rare and wonderful feeling when an opening band knocks your socks off, but off they came on Saturday night. Having hustled in sockless himself from Montauk, getting the last minute gig, the frontman showed no ill effects, raging full energy from the get-go. Seems these guys have been playing a plethora of gigs around town and it shows—very tight from guitars to vocals. The sound was the Rolling Stones via the BK (ca. 2009): pure rock and roll with all the associated underpinnings and the raw sexiness of unfettered guitar. As with most great and potentially great bands, the heroes are in the back line. The bassist played a nasty, groove-infusing Rickenbacker and the drummer thumped a rhythm all his own, which just happened to be the perfect one for every song. Hymns—check ’em! —A. Stein