Evan Dando at Reading Festival 1997

article from NME's "Public NME" Reading Special


The Outdoor Hype

Hey, just call us Public Meg, why don't you? Yes, without the aid of a crystal ball, a hefty weekly wage or the voice of tortured stoat, last week we predicted that the Reading Festival would see the festival season ascend into a Gossip Apocalypse. And judging by the fact that our brains seem to have been blown to the four corners of the globe and our livers are threatening to fall out due to radiation sickness (or could it have been lager?), we were pretty bloody accurate.

But then, we had inside information. We'd been tipped off by our spies via a few subtle adverts in the music papers and national press, that The Lemonheads would be playing. And sure enough, Evan Dando turned out to be the nuttiest, most blootered, one-acoustic-short-of-a-solo-session pop star on what he described as a "quiet weekend off".

We join him first in his luxury dressing trailer on Saturday afternoon, 'chilling' with his band prior to their afternoon slot. At which point a flustered organiser appeared and informed the band that they were due onstage five minutes ago and the crowd were already showing signs of riot. "Great!" cried Evan. "Time for one more spliff then..."

An hour later, we catch up with our hero in the guest area, five minutes after leaving the stage. He is in the process of clambering on to a flimsy plastic table and shouting, "Hands up who likes me!" at a throng including Supergrass, Dodgy, Denise Van Outen, Gruff Super Furry and Gavin Rossdale, Richard Branson (down to 'check out' Hurricane #1 or, if we're very lucky, convince them to circumnavigate the Earth in a pressurised shower cubicle with him), Fast from Fun Lovin' Criminals and The Bluetones, all of whom suddenly find a passing cloud formation quite fascinating, until the table below Evan gives way, he topples to the ground and begins crawling barwards to buy all of the 2,000 guests a drink. A brilliant plan, as it turned out, because by the time he'd done 500 he'd forgotten what we at the front of the queue looked like. Cue six return visits and a monumental Lemonheads-sponsored lager stash in the back of the Public NME mobile Cruise-O-Palace. Cheers.

It looked, at this early stage, as if it was all over for the Dand. But it had only just begun. For there he was on Sunday night, on top of the lighting rig during Metallica's chuff-a-rama, shouting "Hands up who likes me!".

And frankly it would have been better for him if the ligthing rig had collapsed because then he wouldn't have been able to go back to his hotel that night and come face-to-face with Marilyn Manson and his eight sinew-chewing zombie bouncers. Now, being the type whose brain communicates with his mouth by week-long parcel post, Evan found this the perfect opportunity to point out that Marilyn had "a girl's name", to which His Satanic Majesty summoned the deepest voice from the fire pits of Hades and uttered, "Well it's better than Evan Dildo, so nerr."

This terrible battle of Pissed And Evil escalated until Evan struck the final blow for truth by throwing some chips and a banana in Marilyn's face, only to find himself being chased through the dark streets of Reading by a pack of blood-crazed bouncers. Rumours that Evan was caught, skinned-up and smoked by the Manson crew could not be confirmed as Public NME went to press.


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