Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grant Lee Buffalo, June 28 at the Echo

I missed out on Grant Lee Phillips in the mid-’90s.  I just wasn’t anywhere near the acoustic side of the “alternative” rock world.  Not enough loud guitars for me.  And he’s actually a pretty good singer, so that threw me.  Probably a little too earnest for me as well.  But that was totally Carla’s world back then and she's gotten me more into that.  Phillips survived the ‘90s and while he was never considered a big name enough to stick around in the alt-rock world after those boom days, he was big enough then that he could do tour now and people will come out for it.  I don’t know what kind of crowd he could have pulled at his peak but now he’s doing venues like the Echo though at least he packed it out.  And it was a dedicated crowd.  He probably originally had a slightly older fanbase back in the day since he didn’t have the kind of pop music that teeny-boppers chased, and he’s probably lost some of his fans to the trappings of age but at least when that crowd comes out for a show now they’re respectful and appreciative.  Phillips still makes appearances, notably at Largo, but this was apparently part of a rare, short tour.  I wasn’t familiar with most of the music but I recognized the vibe.  Yes, I knew “Mockingbird.”  And I realized I probably should have been paying more attention back then.  I wouldn’t say that I’m mellowing in my old age and gravitating toward more quiet music but I have a greater appreciation of more structured, delicate songwriting now. Sometimes I can catch some things that I missed, one of the many things that Carla has aided me with.  It’s amazing that such a tuneful, earnest singer-songwriter could get traction at any time, but that’s how much of a pull being considered “alternative” had two decades ago.  I’d rather think it’s because the man had and has talent.  It’s happened to some songwriters since but the forms of music shift and age is important (both in the performer and the audience).  Phillips’ time might be over but at least there are those who carry some appreciation for what he made as well as a memory of a time when he had as much a chance as anyone at getting it out to a larger audience.