at Lulu's, State College PA
19th February 2007
Review by Kevin Doran from The Daily Collegian
The lights go down, the band walks off the stage, but the only people leaving the concert are either too tired to stay or they don’t know what an encore is.
Traditional rockism in this day and age states that every band, regardless of the crowd’s reception, is required to do an encore. Often the encore will involve an acoustic number to get the lighters flicked on, and even more often it will include one or two of the band's big hits.
Last night at Lulu's Nightspot, 129 1/2 S. Pugh St., The Lemonheads did not follow this script, and instead made a mockery of rock and roll.
That’s not to say that Evan Dando and his backing band du jour didn’t put on a good show. They certainly provided a great set. But Dando decided to cut out the rock and roll histrionics at the very moment he found out the band had stop playing. And he did so without playing the Lemonheads' two biggest hits, “It’s a Shame About Ray” and the Simon and Garfunkel song “Mrs. Robinson.”
Now, it's been a long time since those songs were popular, and I understand that Dando may feel beleaguered when fans start shouting for those songs. But Dando needs to face facts here. I won’t go so far to call him washed-up, but he’s not exactly in the limelight anymore. That’s especially true when he’s playing to a crowd in State College that likely paled in comparison with the crowd at most downtown bars last night.
That said, refusing to play the band’s two biggest hits is inexcusable. I'll give the band some credit: the set was tight. The drumming was on point, the harmonies were crisp and Dando’s voice was still soothing in all its melodic alt-country punk-pop glory. But cutting those songs from the set list was fraudulent to the people paying to see the Lemonheads.
Before his abrupt exit, Dando led the band through a good mix of old and new, pleasing the nostalgic among the crowd with “Alison’s Starting to Happen,” “My Drug Buddy,” and “If I Could Talk I’d Tell You.” The only real flaw to the band’s set prior to Dando’s disappearing act was that the band’s set moved a bit too seamlessly. There was barely a moment wasted between the high-tempo numbers, and at times the songs seemed to run together. The band still had its chops on slower-paced songs, but in between them it was all a blur.
But despite an overall solid show, the one thing that everyone at Lulu’s will take away from the show is the image of Dando grabbing his hat and dodging a high five on his way out the door while everyone stood around and scratched their heads. While the exit music came over the loudspeakers and everyone reluctantly sauntered out the door, Dando sat in his tour bus on Pugh Street waiting to leave.