Orlando, Fl • January 31, 2007
Continuing on with the “flashback to my high school years” week, I decided to check out the opening night of The Lemonheads‘ tour. The band hasn’t enjoyed the multiple hits and platinum albums that allowed the Red Hot Chili Peppers to fill the arena the night before, but they did still manage to pack a few hundred people into The Social. Pretty impressive for a band largely known for their cover of a Simon & Garfunkel song.
Opening for Evan Dando and friends was a hairy bunch of hippies who looked collectively like Jesus, and sounded like Dylan. Calling themselves Vietnam, I rather expected peace, love and protest tunes. What I didn’t expect was for these stand-still young guys to produce such subtley psychadelic songs that- while given no flash whatsoever in terms of an entertaining performance- kissed Dylan’s folk stylings as much as it flirted with roots rock and even The Beatles. Vocalist/guitarist Joshua Grubb may not do much onstage, but his voice is strong enough to carry the music.
In between acts the venue tightened and as crew members taped down the night’s setlist, fans of all varieties made their way to the lip of the stage to check out what would be on the menu for the evening’s show. After everyone had waited, and waited a little more, the trio finally appeared- coming in the front door rather than from backstage.
Apparently having just come back from a food run, the incognito Dando- who hid his trademark hair deep beneath a beanie, and wore a scruffy beard to cover his pretty face- took a bite of his hot dog before setting it on his amp and picking up his guitar. When a band doesn’t put down their dinner before getting onstage to perform it can only be assumed that they’d rather not be playing. As rude as I found this to be, it could have easily been dismissed had the band launched into an awe-inspiring set. Unfortunately, such was not the case.
Appearing either timid or indifferent, Dando sang with out much movement. He had his eyes either closed, or gazed down at his own “fancy” fingerwork throughout much of the set. There was little personality, and even less passion in the songs’ deliveries. He communicated more with his guitar tech (stationed directly behind him in the corner of the stage) than with the crowd. The audience either didn’t notice, or didn’t care, that he didn’t seem to want to be there. They cheered at the start and finish of every tune, giving extra special love to the older songs, of which there were many. Old favorites from the era of It’s A Shame About Ray, “Confetti,””Bit Part” and “Drug Buddy” satiated many aging 90’s alternative appetites (my own included).
To be fair, the band sounded good- the songs were still fun and fresh. It was just like listening to the albums… perhaps too much so.
To see more photos of this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.