at The Social, Orlando FL
31st January 2007
Review from Objective Tinnitus blog
You’re in the bungle, baby. You’re not gonna die. I doubt you’ll even get injured. No, there’s nothing dangerous in this part of the blogosphere. It’s just me, James Greene, another Kentucky Fried Idiot who feels like he’s filling some large void by posting epic rants about obscure punk bands, forgotten vaudevillians, and childhood heroes on the Internet. Expect that kind of thing here, peppered with MP3s and video of whatever wild crapola I feel needs to be shoved down your throat. I shall do my best to keep things interesting and fringe - no promises, though. Somedays, a guy just feels like talking about the Lemonheads.
And sometimes, that day is today.
How famous is Evan Dando? I’m really not sure. I’m guessing his eventual death will not interrupt a prime time broadcast of “Law & Order” or “Grey’s Anatomy.” I suppose a more appropriate question might be how famous does Evan Dando think he is? The answer to that question is, apparently, very famous, or at least that’s what I gathered after seeing him perform with his band the Lemonheads two weeks ago at Orlando’s Social (club motto: our backstage is the broom closet).
I say this not because Dando had a rack of about eight guitars next to him during the show (all of which seemed to produce roughly the same sound when plugged in) nor because he swapped guitars out after nearly every song. Nay, I say this because there was a man planted onstage directly behind said guitar rack whose sole job was to hand Dando whichever axe he desired, despite the fact that the distance between the fussy frontman and his arsenal of git-fiddles was no more than one and a half steps. The bass player was not afforded such amenities. In fact, he used the same guitar all night. The drummer, as well, used one singular drum kit for the duration of the set.
Maybe we were witnessing performance art. At one point, Evan turned to his hapless helper and motioned to his amp. He appeared to mouth the following words:
“It’s not loud enough.”
The guy darted over to the amp’s volume knob, turned it clockwise, thereby increasing the volume, and stepped back. Dando nodded in approval. While this is not on the level of playing the guitar solo from “Sweet Child O’ Mine” in the middle of every song (a brazen act Dando once perpetrated during a concert, resulting in the temporary breakup of the Lemonheads), I will accept Evan’s Royal Knob Turner as the best crazy he has to offer these days - but only so I don’t have to damn his name in sentences laced with phrases like “no soul” and “rock star bullshit.”
Musically, the Lemonheads were in top form on this chilly Orlando night. Dando’s voice is still a sweet, buttery coo drenched in molasses (Dando 1, Crack 0). The rhythm section was particularly boffo, which is good because it appeared they were working without a setlist. More than once I spied Dando turning his fretboard towards Mr. Bass Man so he knew which notes to hit. They played plenty of crap off the new record, which is fine and dandy, but they also paraded out a plethora of classics. “Hospital,” “If I Could Talk I’d Tell You,” “Drug Buddy,” “Outdoor Type,” “Big Gay Heart,” “Rick James Style,” “It’s a Shame About Ray” - we were even treated to rollicking versions of “Hate Your Friends” and another very early Lemonheads song that was recorded, according to Dando, “the day after we graduated from high school in 1986.”
If I walked away from this show with one disappointment, it was that during his spotlight acoustic set (read: bass n’ drums get a break to finish their hot dogs and whiz) Dando did not bust out his epic cover of “Skulls.” I saw him play it once at a solo gig in 2001 and I seriously almost had multiple orgasms. Only Boston’s favorite substance-abusing alternahunk could take lyrics like “demon I am and face I peel, to see your skin turned inside out” and make them sound romantic. Oh, Dando, I bet you say that to all the girls!