Review of Evan Dando live at Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto - 11th February 2006

By Shannon Wibbs from Chart Attack

Evan Dando Is Still Pretty Crazy

I admit it — I went to this show because my inner teenager loudly demanded it. Ever since I saw Evan Dando looking cute and dopey in his pajamas and sharing his secret recipe for chocolate sauce on the pages of Sassy magazine, I was hooked. Thirteen years ago, I laced up my purple Doc Martens, promised to be home in time for curfew and rocked out to the Lemonheads at the Masonic Temple Concert Hall.

I was also a pretty big Doughboys freak back in the day, too, so it was pretty damn cool that John Kastner opened the show.

Kastner got on stage to a packed house. He hid behind his dreadlocks and shuffled his way through a fairly quick set of tunes, accompanied only by his electric guitar. The new songs sounded good, but Kastner's complete lack of stage presence made time drag after a while. He played the Doughboys classics at the end, including "Shine" and "Fix Me," but his heart didn't really seem into it. In fact, his heart didn't really seem to be in anything.

After a long break, Dando took the stage, looking slightly disheveled and sporting an acoustic guitar and a '70s-era David Cassidy haircut with long bangs. He scratched the collective Lemonheads fans' itch by kicking off with "Being Around," "Hannah & Gabi," and "Rudderless."

Regardless, it was good to see that some of the fans in the crowd were there for the songs off Dando's solo record, Baby I'm Bored, as opposed to old Lemonheads tunes. Dando played lightly from that album, slipping tunes like "Repeat," "All My Life" and "Why Do You Do This To Yourself" deftly in between oldie-goldies. The guitar work was crystal-clean and his voice hasn't changed since The Lemonheads' heyday.

He wasn't much for stage banter, but gave off a laidback, affable vibe, unlike Kastner, who looked like he'd rather be playing in his living room. However, as the set went on, Dando began to look increasingly agitated. Angry with a loud-talking audience member, he snarked, "I'm gonna tear your tongue out at the roots."

The Lemonheads hit parade went on as Dando dug out old gems like "Stove" and "Don't Tell Yourself" from the Hate Your Friends album. He played requests for "Alison's Starting To Happen" and paused to let the audience fill in on the chorus for "Bit Part."

However, Dando started looking glassy-eyed and distracted, and as he launched into "Big Gay Heart" he fixed his eyes on a group of guys (coincidentally standing right in front of me) who were engaged in a lively conversation. Dando abruptly stopped playing and said, "I can't play because those guys are talking. I'm done." When the audience protested, he mumbled, "Look, I played a full set, OK?"

And that was it. He stormed offstage, sounding like a little kid who announced he'd finished almost all of his peas and therefore should be allowed to leave the table and go play with his trucks. After a few half-hearted cheers to try to coax him back, the audience got fed up and either went to get more drinks or go home.

Later on, a Horseshoe staff member told me that Dando had demanded that a security guard be present at the side of the stage for the whole show because he was convinced that someone was going to kill him. If that doesn't sum up the whole night, I don't know what does.

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