I’ll admit it. I was nerding out big time last Wednesday when I made the short drive downtown to the reinvigorated Strummer’s (formerly Starline) to see one of my favorite bands, Evan Dando er… The Lemonheads.
Like many of you, I was initially exposed to the band via an ubiquitous cover of “Mrs. Robinson” when I was a wee lad in Jr. High school. However, the moment I listened to It’s a Shame About Ray in its entirety, I was hooked on that particular sugary sweet, drug-soured pop record and each effort after it, pretty much up until Baby, I’m Bored (Evan Dando’s 2003 solo album). I didn’t forget about the band for long though because 2006’s self-titled comeback album contained at least three excellent tracks, getting a pretty big assist from Bill Stevenson, known to most as the drummer from The Descendants.
Despite the fact that I have about 88 percent of the band’s catalog committed to memory, I had never seen any Evan Dando project live. Closest thing for me was owning the excellent import from Australia Live at The Brattle Theatre and listening to the Hotel Sessions demos released last year. I had no idea what to expect from Dando, hadn’t been to the website in years and had no clue who would be in the band. I half expected a solo show. Furthermore, over the years I had heard a lot of horror stories about the band. Abrupt exits, ruined vocals, fistfights, abuse of sound technicians, etc.
It took about 12 seconds for The Lemonheads to put all doubts to rest. On a short run of four West Coast dates, Fresno was the first stop and the band blazed through a set that was all killer and no filler. Pulled mostly from the classic trilogy of Ray, Come On Feel, and Car, Button, Cloth, despite a moment or two of confusion regarding the correct chords, Dando remained upbeat and even seemed pleased with a small club Wednesday night crowd in the Central Valley.
Speaking of Fresno, Dando and co. graced the same stage as Real Estate the night before and Jimmy Eat World two nights later. In a year when we’ve already had Dinosaur Jr. at Fulton 55 and now The Lemonheads, can Sebadoh be too far behind?