Grandpa vs. Grandma happens to be one of those bands where the source of discovery — how I came to stumble upon them — is totally lost on me. But I’m delighted to have stumbled.
If I had to guess, I’d say it was on some Bandcamp perusal happy fun time binge, and their moniker flashed in front of me at some point. The rest is easy, because who wouldn’t spare at least a few minutes for a band named Grandpa vs. Grandma? I mean, I would! (And did!)
Anyway, this was sometime over the summer because I distinctly remember an afternoon jog down Lakeshore in mid to late August while the Chicago Air and Water Show was going on. It was a delight having something new and weird to look at in the sea and sky whilst not running into — and I mean that literally — passersby on the path, and I had Grandpa vs. Grandma humming in my ears the whole way through.
I honestly found them at the perfect time because despite being a February release, The Grandpa vs. Grandma EP complemented our Chicago summer beautifully. It’s scratchy and a little messy, but has a tightness to it that ensures some fluidity. It’d’ve been nice background to a burger and beer cookout had I hosted more.
So Grandpa vs. Grandma is a gal named Brenda on drum duty and a dude named Henry Van Loon on guitar. We’ve seen a setup like theirs before, I think, ever since The White Stripes made it mainstream. And Chicago has a homegrown spin on that, too, in brother-sister duo White Mystery. (Side note: WM plays The Hideout Friday.)
What distinguishes Grandpa vs. Grandma from those groups are its fantastic name, of course, but also — on record, at least — a sound that isn’t so taxing on the ears. Now, they know how to rock it; that isn’t what’s at stake here. What I mean is my, shall we say, endurance for Grandpa vs. Grandma’s sound outpaces White Mystery’s a bit. I can spin The Grandpa vs. Grandma EP a handful of times and come out clean the other end.
Grandpa vs. Grandma isn’t saving the world with their jams. I mean, they’re wailing about PBR, shoes and, well, sex. But what they want to sing about — the simplicity of it all — is one of the many reasons I think them a charming bunch of rockers.
I’ve looked around a bit and haven’t come across any show listings for these guys, so a review of what they do live is pending. In the meantime, hop over to their Bandcamp and give ’em a listen. Downloads of the EP are free. I recommend starting out with “Twenty-Nine or Two for Fifty” and “Large Marge.”
- Grandpa vs. Grandma, based in Chicago, is Henry Van Loon (guitar, vocals) and Brenda Johnson (drums, vocals).