at Grog Shop, Cleveland
9th December 2006
Review by Bill from I Rock ClevelandI really love Evan Dando of The Lemonheads. I say that in the straightest way that a straight man can profess his love for a musician. He bumped into me at the merch table while the openers VietNam were on stage, and I was like, "Oh my god, Evan Dando just bumped into me." You see, after all these years, Evan Dando still has that lovable loser aura about him. The last time I saw Evan Dando at the Grog Shop on a solo tour, he played a short set, barely spoke to the crowd, and could not wait to get off the stage. Did that diminish my love for Evan Dando? Nope. I quickly shrugged it off. Maybe Evan was having a bad day. We all have bad days, right?
Once Evan Dando and The Lemonheads took the stage last night, and he flashed that famous aw-shucks smile of his, all was forgiven. They opened the set with two tunes from 2006's self titled release, "Black Gown" and "Become The Enemy" before reaching back to 1992's It's A Shame About Ray for "Hannah and Gabi" and 1993's Come On Feel The Lemonheads for "Down About It." It was only four songs into the set and you could tell that Evan was enjoying himself this time through town. When someone from the crowd kept requesting "Mrs. Robinson," Evan said, "Why don't you come up and sing it with us?" So, The Lemonheads kept recycling the intro to "Mrs. Robinson" until he got on the stage and started singing. Later in the night, when someone screamed "Freebird" The Lemonheads started playing "Freebird." When Evan and the band broke out of "Freebird" after a couple minutes, he explained that he and the bandmates figured the best way to stop people from saying "Freebird" was to play the song whenever someone screamed it. What a smart and charming man, that Evan Dando.
While the crowd was quite receptive to the new material, the biggest responses came from that classic era Lemonheads material from 92 and 93 including "Bit Part," "Allison's Starting To Happen," "The Turnpike Down," "My Drug Buddy," and "It's A Shame About Ray." It was like 1993 all over again, sitting on my sofa thinking about what I'm not going to do today, listening to those irresistable gems from It's a Shame About Ray, and Evan Dando's face was on every magazine cover. Oh, the good old days. After breaking out "The Great Big No" Evan gave his drummer and bassist a rest, and did a nine song solo set. In rapid fire succession he broke out charming renditions of "Outdoor Life," "Being Around," "Into Your Arms," and one of my favorites, the Misfits cover "Skulls." Now back to a full band, The Lemonheads did a quick third set with "Rudderless" and "Confetti." It was like musical nirvana, eden, and seventh heaven complete with the 72 virgins. Evan Dando had my heart once again.
New York bands Hymns and VietNam started the night's rock bill. Hymns were one of those bands that weren't bad, they weren't exceptionally good, but if you weren't paying attention, you'd find your toe tapping along. The long haired rockers in VietNam played a sweet set off of their forthcoming 2007 release. I would have walked home with a copy if they had anything besides vinyl for sale. Live, they sound like the middle ground between The Walkmen and Kings of Leon -- scratched, fractured, and emotional vocals over southern style seventies rock. Think about that one for a moment and imagine how that would sound. If you got it, you know what I'm talking about here. VietNam are going to be a band to watch for 2007.