at Mississippi Nights, St. Louis
13th September 2003
Review by J. Church from Playback
Everyone who attended Evan Dando’s show should thank the former Lemonhead for supplying enough anecdotes to guarantee the spotlight at their next cocktail party. It would take me several pages to accurately portray the disarray that plagued the show, but I’ll let you in on some of the more amusing aspects.
First, hats off to the Adored, who roared through their set and filled the club with hard-hitting, grunge-inspired rock. The collaborations were tight, and the players—Brian Roach, David Beemen, Derek Bayer, and Greenwheel’s Andy Dwiggins, filling in for guitarist Gabe Doiron—appeared to be having a good time despite the sparse attendance and the drowsy, coffeehouse atmosphere. The crowd became more interested and seemed surprised when Roach announced they were from St. Louis. They must have been impressed with the band’s professionalism.
The rest of the evening was riddled with backstage subplots and onstage antics. Dando, with a guitar in one hand and a cigarette in the other, shuffled through the front doors of Mississippi Nights a short time after 9 p.m., about 30 minutes after the Adored had broken down their gear. It was another half an hour before he graced us with his extremely divided attention.
Dando’s first act was to announce that his bass player had chosen to attend a wedding rather than the show. He then invited anyone in the crowd to feel free to join him for a cover of Flipper’s “Sex Bomb.” Lucky for us, that brave soul didn’t wander up until halfway through the set, which meant the torturous rendition only lasted 17 minutes. “Sex Bomb,” which featured Dando on bass, Chris Brokaw on guitar, and an audience member on vocals, was the only song on which drummer George Berz felt well enough to appear, since he reportedly injured his arm after sleeping on it for 13 hours straight. The rest of the evening was reserved for Dando’s incoherent ramblings, conversations with members of the audience, and constant guitar tuning.
To the songwriter’s credit, Dando is still an exceptional performer. When playing, he silently demands the attention of the crowd, drawing over half of it to the front of the stage by strumming his first chord. He mixed the set with songs from as far back as The Lemonheads’ Lovey to tracks from his current release, Baby, I’m Bored. He performed the 20-plus song set, including “My Drug Buddy,” “Down About It,” “Style,” and “The Outdoor Type,” with heart, honesty, and charisma. The lack of atmosphere may have prompted him to entertain in a less than formal fashion, but he’s no longer a rock star and doesn’t need to hide behind a façade.