Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Lemonheads Are Starting To Happen

concert review: The Lemonheads, Vietnam @ Lee's Palace(Toronto, Ontario), December 12, 2006

Evan Dando of The Lemonheads @ Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

This past Tuesday night at Lee's Palace it was like the mid-90's all over again as The Lemonheads[really just Evan Dando and the band members that he had along for the ride this time] played to a packed house, a set steeped in nostalgia. I missed first openers Hymns, but caught the second act of the night, the shaggy-haired, bearded Brooklynites Vietnam. I went into their set completely oblivious but came out a convert. With the four-piece enveloped in the dim lighting and shadow onstage, they played a musical stew of rock, country, folk and punk with an underlying sense of melody and rhythm that tied everthing altogether. Their debut album will be released January 23 through Kemado Records and I'm looking forward to it.

Evan Dando is a little older although you'd never have known it given his energy onstage and the combined illusory effect of the warm hues of the stage lights and his long locks of hair covering his face that in their absence we would have seen any wrinkles that Evan might have now. The Lemonheads' set was heavy on the songs off of "It's A Shame Aboy Ray" and "Come On Feel The Lemonheads" with at least one song['If I Could Talk,I'd Tell You'] off of "Car Button Cloth". The rest which I hadn't recognized were I assumed mostly from the new album, although possibly there were a few songs from pre-Ray days. Importantly, everything including the older material, was played with such zest and, dare I say, punkiness, which I think really justifies the reemergence of The Lemonheads this decade. If Evan's musical and songwriting chops remain up to snuff[and after listening to the newest self-titled Lemonheads album, my response is a resouding 'yes they have'] then I only hope he has the commitment and motivation to make The Lemonheads a longer-lasting affair at least until the next decade. The two band members[on drums and bass guitar] at the show were apparently not Bill Stevenson(Descendents, Black Flag) and Karl Alvarez(Descendents) who played in the studio on the new album, but otherwise the band members at the show did a capable job, especially the drummer who I think nailed all the memorable Lemonheads drum arrangements.

After The Lemonheads played their electric set, Evan came back alone for a solo acoustic set which was highlighted by a spine-tingling version of "Into Your Arms" and its chorus of 'I know a place where I can go when I'm alone, into your arms, ohhh, into your arms, I can go'. Adorning his acoustic guitar alongside some well-worn Angry Samoans band stickers were photos of a young blond-haired girl - whoever this might have been, whether it be a daughter, niece, or whomever, it showed an unselfishness and a dedication to something outside of music that'd I'd only think would keep Evan centered for his musical career.

ps. Did anyone catch the poor girl at front who experienced two unfortunate incidents trying to snatch a set list? The first time she tried she got her hands on one but then the bassist took it back because they weren't done yet. The second time she tried, another fan jumped onto the stage at the same time and snatched the set list just as she was about to grab it. She was mightily pissed off.

Here are my photos from the show.

MySpace: Vietnam
MySpace: The Lemonheads
e-card: Vietnam - debut album (out January 23, 2007)

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