[Photos by Ken Grand-Pierre. See his Flickr stream here]
As acts from the early 90s have continued to take victory laps over the past few years, I have had a chance to reflect on how different the personalities were that dominated the music scene then than those from today’s self-affirming generation making vital new music today. In an era principally concerned with authenticity, its troubadours were often people who lived hard and felt deeply – addicts, romantics, and the generally self-destructive. And if you wanted a picture of the archetypal musician of the era, you might consider Evan Dando of The Lemonheads (which he actually formed in ’86, but rose to stardom in the early 90s). A soft-spoken singer whose lyrics tell tales of broken romance, addiction, and self-doubt, Dando has had his ups and downs professionally. I last saw the band headline the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC in 1997 – the last year the band was together before going on hiatus – and they packed the place. In fact, a little known Orlando, FL band called Matchbox 20 opened. The next time I encountered the band, Dando was playing a show in an out of the way honky tonk near a Vermont ski resort.
Dando brought the band back in 2005 and has put out two new records, The Lemonheads and the covers album Varshons, as well as a greatest-hits collection in the UK, Laughing All the Way to the Cleaners: The Best Of. While Dando has struggled at times on this current tour – I heard reports from other cities of shows completely falling apart due to him being too impaired to play – the quality of his music and his songwriting hasn’t wavered. To see a Lemonheads show is to see song after song that you know, each as good as the last, each intensely, searingly personal. Listen to “All My Life”, streaming below, and see if it hits close to home.
At this show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, Dando was every bit the musician I had seen nearly 15 years ago, playing an epic show that consisted of multiple solo sets, a full run-through of The Lemonheads’ breakout album, It’s A Shame About Ray, and a second full-band set. The show ran for an epic 105 minutes – even more impressive considering the average song length of about three minutes. Dando delved into some
of the covers from Varshons, as well as some of his other concert favorites. Some of these covers could have been written especially for Dando; he chooses covers that tell his story as much as the orignal authors’. As Dando continued to play a string of classics, it was hard not to yearn for the era that spawned them, when cred and emotions were a band’s currency, and musicians didn’t need car commercials to earn enough money for the booze and drugs that fueled their damaged art.
Wrapping up a set that never faltered, Dando closed with the twofer of “Rick James Style” – whose refrain “don’t wanna get high / but I don’t wanna not get high” is lent added menace by James’ eventual end – and the Angry Samoans’ “You Stupid Jerk,” a short, chaotic burst of silliness that ended this show on a happy note. The band continues their U.S. tour westward today, and I hope fans in the Midwest don’t miss a chance to see Evan Dando back at the top of his game.
I recorded this set with Schoeps “open cardiod” microphones and an excellent soundboard feed by the Knitting Factory team. The recording is an outstanding capture of the night. Enjoy!
Stream “All My Life”
Stream “How Much I’ve Lied [Gram Parsons]
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Brooklyn, NY USA
Digital Master Recording hosted exclusively at NYCTaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack
Schoeps MK22 (ROC, DIN, 8ft)>KCY>Naiant littlebox + SBD >> Edirol R-44 [Oade Concert Mod]>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Audition (mastering effects on SBD source, align, mixdown, amplify and balance, downsample)>24bit/44.1kHz WAV>Audacity (set fades, tracking, downsample to 16bit)>FLAC ( level 8 )
Tracks [Total Time 1:44:00]
01 Being Around
02 My Idea
03 Why Do You Do This To Yourself?
04 The Outdoor Type
05 Frying Pan
06 All My Life
07 [intro the band]
[The Lemonheads perform “It’s A Shame About Ray”]
08 Rockin Stroll
10 It’s A Shame About Ray
12 My Drug Buddy
13 The Turnpike Down
14 Bit Part
15 Alison’s Starting to Happen
16 Hannah & Gabi
18 Ceiling Fan in My Spoon
[Evan solo (finishing “It’s A Shame About Ray”)]
19 Frank Mills
20 It’s About Time
21 No Backbone
23 Your Home Is Where You’re Happy [Charles Manson]
24 Streets of Baltimore [Gram Parsons]
25 A Song For You [Gram Parsons]
26 How Much I’ve Lied [Gram Parsons]
27 Ride With Me
28 [intro band]
30 Down About It
31 If I Could Talk I’d Tell You
32 Big Gay Heart
33 The Great Big No
34 Rick James Style
35 [encore break]
36 You Tore Me Down [Flaming Groovies]
37 Don’t Tell Yourself
38 Rain [Blake Babies]
39 Favorite T
40 It Looks Like You
41 Like A Rose [Lucinda Williams]
42 Nighttime [Big Star]
43 $1000 Wedding
44 You Stupid Jerk [Angry Samoans]
If you enjoyed this recording, PLEASE SUPPORT The Lemonheads, see them on tour, visit their website (which contains those tour dates) and purchase Laughing All the Way to the Cleaners and their other records from Amazon or your favorite retailer (their online store is not yet up).