Evan Dando dropped off of everyones radar ten years ago, after a whirlwind career that seemed destined to end tragically like his friend Kurt Cobain. Too much success too soon, and too fast a crowd, left Dando struggling with his own demons long after Kurt was gone. Now after taking his hiatus, Dando has returned to the music scene with the latest incarnation of the Lemonheads. They are currently touring to support the release of their latest album, The Lemonheads.
I had missed Dando and the Lemonheads perform earlier in their career, their rise coinciding with my own hiatus from the live music scene, so I was glad to get an invite from their publicist, Amy, to shoot their show at Emo's this weekend. The Lemondheads, originally from Boston, are probably most famous for their remake of the Simon and Garfunkel classic "Mrs. Robinson," much to their chagrin, or for their single "Its a Shame About Ray." They are a power-pop-meets-grunge trio that emerged during the grunge rock period, with frontman Dando in the role of teen heartthrob. While there weren't many teens in the audience for this show, there were still plenty of women gathered under his microphone.
Dando's latest version of the band was very clean and tight musically. Scruffy and bundled up against the 40 degree temperatures in a thick jacket and ski cap, Evan was nonetheless unhampered in his ability to play, though by the time he hit the stage at 12:30 I had lost all feeling in my toes. After about the third or forth song he ditched his sunglasses to the pre-teen screams of his post-teen audience.
I really liked the Lemonheads' set, and even though they didn't play "Mrs. Robinson," they did play a number of their more popular songs, as well as some of their new songs. Dando was supported ably by Vess Ruhtenberg on bass and Devon Ashley of the Pieces on drums, who seemed to really match Dando's vocals and guitar work well. To see a copy of the set list for this show click here.
Danny Dunlap and The Fall Collection at Emo's photo by staff photographer jeff barringer
Opening the show was Austin's the Fall Collection, a nifty little power pop trio fronted by guitarist and vocalist Danny Dunlap. They have a great sound and lots of energy to their music. This will be an Austin band to watch. Kind of reminded me of an updated version of the Paul Collins Beat, but maybe not quite as hooky. Danny really handles his Rickenbacker well. They were a good match with the Lemonheads' sound.
Vietnam at Emo's photo by staff photographer jeff barringer
The second band on the bill, a band out of New York called Vietnam, frankly was a very odd choice for this set. I think I have to credit Brian Curley of Jerry's Kids and the Delinquents with the best description: Kind of like Country Joe and the Fish meets the Velvet Underground. I would add to that description a bean bag chair, a lava lamp, and some quaaludes, and you're pretty much there. It's not that their music was bad, in fact I heard some nifty guitar runs wandering in and out of their songs, but the music itself sounded like a Led Zeppelin album with the vocals culled, running at half speed on a turntable with a slipping belt. It seemed to slow down, then speed up, then slow down, then slow way down, stop, then speed up again, all in the same song and for no discernible reason. If heavy metal ever had a need for a jam band from the 70s, this is it. It was interesting, it was different, it wasn't unnecessarily bad; it was just strange to see them on the same bill sandwiched between a couple of power pop bands.