Grandaddy / Radar Bros / Built Like Alaska
Mainzer Theater, Merced
March 3, 2003

Review by Jake Thomas

Roadtrip! Daz and I packed ourselves into my car on a sunny Saturday afternoon and headed out to the central valley to try and see us some good music. And good music we did see. We were both damn excited, as I've never seen Grandaddy before even though I have most of their records memorized, and Daz not only loves the band but was going to be shooting some portraits of them before the show for DIW Magazine. Add on top of this the fact that both of the opening bands are rad, and you've got a good night ahead of you.

The venue was pretty amazing; an old theatre in downtown Merced, not terribly different from the old theatres that every town in California has, but I've always had a soft spot for these sort of places. The acoustics were good, and it had these beautiful art deco light fixtures that I would have given my left arm for. There was only one thing slightly bad about the evening at all, and it affected all of the performers; there seemed to be a lot of problems with the PA, thus making the sound a little iffy at times. Weird crackling noises, hot mics, monitor problems for the bands - the guys running it tried to do their best, but it never seemed to get fixed. It was unfortunate, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves anyway.

The first band to play was Built Like Alaska. What more can I say about this band? They consistently kick my ass and have been my favorite local act ever since I saw them at The Hemlock sometime last year. I don't think a week has gone by since then that I haven't listened to their album 'Hopalong' or the more recent EP. Most of the songs they played this night were off of these releases, and Daz and I weren't the only ones there that were really excited to be hearing them, plenty of people were dancing along to the music, and I don't mean San Francisco dancing like the kind I do (occasional head bobbing, possibly one leg shaking along to the beat), but real dancing. I told Daz that I could watch these guys play every week and never get sick of them, and it's true too.

The Radar Bros held down the second slot. I've missed my chance to see these guys too many times, so I was glad to finally be getting around to it. I nearly wore out my copy of 'The Singing Hatchet', their second album, but I'm still yet to pick up the new one, which I believe constituted most of their set list. I enjoyed it the show anyway; the vocals were just as amazing live as they are on record, and the band as a whole reminded me even more of Pink Floyd live than on the record. Since I have very strong feelings for Pink Floyd, this is considered a very good thing in my book.

Finally, Grandaddy - I've been waiting years for this. They've played in the city a few times since I moved here, but always opening for some big name act that costs too much money. Here, I get to see them at a reasonable price with other bands I'm excited to see. The show couldn't have been anymore tailor suited to my liking, they played a couple of new songs on their forth-coming album, but mostly concentrated on the classics. They played almost all of 'Sophtware slump', and more importantly, they even played some older 'Under the Western Freeway' era songs, b-sides, etc. The crowd collectively went apeshit at the beginning of pretty much every track they started in on. Lots of singing along from the crowd, the band was all smiles and seemed to be digging things despite the sound issues, and Daz and I were as happy as a sailor in a whorehouse.

Grandaddy Grandaddy Grandaddy Grandaddy Grandaddy

Read our previous Grandaddy reviews:
July 19th, 2001, Justin Herman Plaza
July 18th, 2001, The Webbys, War Memorial Opera House
June 20th, 2001, The Warfield, opening for Coldplay
April 1, 2001 Acousticfest, Lauren's Barn, Oakdale, California, where Grandaddy performed a short 5 song set.
June 30th, 2000, The Warfield, opening for Yo La Tengo & November 13, 2000 opening for Elliot Smith
October 8th, 2000, Unscrubbed, Slim's - Jason Lytle performs a solo set.

Check out our previous Radar Bros experience:
Photos January 26, 2002 @ El Rio

Read our previous Built Like Alaska reviews:
September 8, 2002 @ Hemlock Tavern
December 1st, 2001 @ Oakdale Brewing Company
December 8, 2001
@ Café du Nord
November 11, 2001 @ Bimbo's 365
July 2, 2001 @ Great American Music Hall
June 15, 2001 @ the Dirty Duck in Modesto
May 29, 2001 @ the Dirty Duck
March 20, 2001 @ Café du Nord