Evan Dando live at the 40 Watt Club, Athens GA - 16th November 2001
Review by Robert Cass
I saw Dando's concert at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA,
on Friday, November 16, 2001. It was the first time I'd ever seen Dando in
concert, basically because I became a Lemonheads fan in early '97 right AFTER
the Lemonheads came to Athens on the "car button cloth" tour (I was a junior
at the University of Georgia at the time). I missed that performance, and
then Dando laid low for the next few years (just to spite a new fan like me,
of course). Interestingly enough, Matchbox 20 opened up for the Lemonheads
in Athens in '97. (Say, whatever happened to those guys?)
Dando's voice was in fine shape Friday night, although he did seem to avoid reaching the top of his vocal register on songs like "The Great Big No." I'm not sure why, but it didn't matter, because each of the old songs still sounded great. (When he sang "The Great Big No," Dando messed up the same line that I always mess up when I'm singing the song in my car -- "He wonders why / The Indigo Guy." Dando said "how" instead of "why" and then tried to slowly change the former into the latter as he held the note. It's good to know I'm not the only one who gets those lines confused.) He played four or five new songs, including "Hard Drive" (he asked a guy at the front of the crowd to hold up the lyrics sheet for him during this song), "The Same Thing You Thought Hard About Is the Same Part I Can Live Without," "All My Life," and a song that included the line "Don't listen to me or anybody else / Just listen to yourself" and the phrase "fall down dead." I don't know the title of this one, but it was my favorite of the new ones.
Dando also ended a few old Lemonheads songs by quickly launching into half-songs, somewhat to the surprise of Chris Brokaw, it seemed. Brokaw accompanied Dando on rhythm guitar, and it looked like Dando was trying to catch Brokaw off-guard during these moments, but Brokaw was happy to oblige. One of these half-songs was the Television Personalities' "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives" (someone had to identify the song for me after the concert). Two of the other half-songs were "Who Loves the Sun" and "Coney Island Baby," and I, for one, would love to hear Dando cover some more Lou Reed songs.
Dando's quirky sense of humor seemed to be intact as well. He opened up his set by telling everyone that his concert was a benefit for the Athens 12, who were arrested for "planespotting" in Greece. He then asked us, "Are blow jobs still legal in this town?" Throughout the night we were urged to free the Athens 12 again and again. I wish Dando had urged the loud woman in back to shut the hell up, especially since she wasn't listening to the songs and chose to chew her boyfriend's ear off the entire night ... until "Into Your Arms" was played, that is, and then she drunkenly sang along to the one song she recognized. There's always one person like her at every concert, and I'll never understand why these people pay good money to carry on conversations with their friends at concerts or in movie theatres. It's not like they can rent a damn concert from the video store six months from now in order to catch up on what they missed. Isn't there some remote island where we can send these people?
I didn't realize Ben Kweller would be opening up for Dando (only Chris Brokaw was advertised on the 40 Watt Club's Web site), but I was very impressed. My girlfriend ended up buying both of his EPs, and it was amazing how much energy the guy had, considering that he was getting over the flu. I hope he gets the recognition he deserves in the coming years.