The Lemonheads Fitzgerald's February 10, 2012
The Fitzgerald's air was heavy with '90s nostalgia Friday night, as fans flocked to see The Lemonheads. The band is currently on tour performing their lauded 1992 release, It's a Shame About Ray, in its entirety.
Despite the fact that front man Evan Dando originally hails from frigid Boston, he seemed the warmest dressed for Houston's uncharacteristically cold weather, clad in multiple layers, including a flannel button-down and knit beanie.
In an interview with Dando last week, we noted how refreshingly coherent and affable he was, refuting the previously accepted belief that he's spacey and drug-addled, at best. He may have looked weathered as hell at Friday's show, but his lucidity was intact.
"I remember playing at Fitzgerald's with Material Issue and the Soup Dragons," he said, a few lucky fans in the crowd clapping in shared remembrance of the show.
The songwriter, now 44, first took the stage solo and with an acoustic guitar, treating his full crowd to 1993's Come On Feel the Lemonheads tune "Being Around" and "The Outdoor Type," from 1996's Car Button Cloth. Both songs are prime examples of Dando's unmistakably witty sense of humor in songwriting.
A backdrop screen showed footage shot from the front seat of a car, presumably taken from the band's tour bus. As everyday images of city traffic, rural roads, and falling rain flashed across the screen, Dando played songs from his 2003 solo record Baby I'm Bored, including the poignant "Hard Drive" and "All My Life." The crowd softly sang along as he played the band's popular 1993 single "Into Your Arms."
Dando, who was visibly smiling in subtle delight, then swapped his acoustic guitar for an electric, and was joined by his band.
While The Lemonheads' lineup has constantly shuffled over the past decade, one thing remains clear: Dando knows how to choose talented musicians. During our interview, he admitted the band -- which now includes drummer Chuck Treece (Urge Overkill) and bassist Fred Mascherino (Taking Back Sunday) -- was "developing" as they go, but they were unquestionably on the mark Friday.
Unsurprisingly, Dando didn't address the crowd much, besides an occasional "Thank you very much." Mascherino picked up the stage-presence slack, and the band revealed what seems like strong chemistry together, delivering song after song without break.
We're admittedly huge Lemonheads fans, so we never tire of hearing Ray standouts like "Rudderless," "Bit Part" and especially "My Drug Buddy."
And while every track from Ray was performed, the band played standouts from other records too, like "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You," "Mallo Cup" and "It's About Time."
The Lemonheads returned for two encores, ultimately closing the set with the GG Allin song "Layin' Up With Linda."
I've seen The Lemonheads live several times since seen the '90s; though the set wasn't terribly varied from their previous recent tours, their Ray approach made Lemonheads fans feel as if they had an endless supply of quarters for a jukebox stocked with their favorite songs -- and it doesn't get much better than that.
Personal Bias: "Luka" was on the set list, but wasn't played. Bummer. Also, I'd like to see Dando tackle Come On Feel the Lemonheads in its entirety next tour.
The Crowd: Like the cast of (Houston-set) Reality Bites, all grown up.
Overheard in the Crowd: Juliana Hatfield's back-up vocal parts sung by the crowd, during songs like "It's About Time." ("SUNSHINE!")
Random Notebook Dump: Opener Meredith Sheldon is worth a listen. Even if she did incite countless Juliana Hatfield comparisons amongst the crowd, she intrigued us.
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Being Around (Dando solo) The Outdoor Type (solo) Hard Drive (solo) All My Life (solo) My Idea (solo) Into Your Arms (solo) Rockin Stroll Confetti It's a Shame About Ray Rudderless My Drug Buddy Turnpike Down Bit Part Hannah & Gabi Kitchen Ceiling Fan In My Spoon Alison's Starting to Happen Frank Mills (solo) It's About Time (solo) Divan (solo) Shaky Ground (solo) Favorite T (solo) Left For Dead The Same Thing Frying Pan
ENCORE 1: Hospital Down About It Why Do You Do This To Yourself Great Big No Tenderfoot If I Could Talk I'd Tell You Break Me Pittsburgh Mallo Cup
ENCORE 2: No Backbone Style Layin' Up With Linda