Let me set this up by saying that I am a big The Lemonheads fan. I am even a fan of Evan Dando as a solo artist. I have been a fan since the release of It’s A Shame About Ray, which came out in 1992, and by this time already their fifth album. It was released during the summer leading into my senior year of high school….Geez, now I am telling my age. I never had an opportunity to see them live back then, but on the night of March 4, 2012, I would get my chance.
There were many factors to this particular, cool, crisp night. One, this was the first night in quite some time my wife (also, a HUGE The Lemonheads fan….a bigger fan then even myself) and I have had the chance to go out, without the kids, and have the night to ourselves. Two, we were in Asheville, North Carolina and we ate at our favorite restaurant, Jerusalem Garden Cafe, which is amazing by the way. Go check them out. Then we found this little place on Lexington Ave, kind of tucked away called French Broad Chocolate Lounge…and yes it was as dreamy as it sounds. So already this night was fantastic. The wife + AMAZING Mediterranean Cuisine + Chocolate (In a Lounge) = This night could not get any better. Then we head on over to The Orange Peel for the show.
The show starts off surprisingly with Fred Mascherino (Taking Back Sunday, Terrible Things, as well as touring bassist for The Lemonheads). We were pleasantly taken back by his delivery and his meekness on stage. After Fred, we were also taken by surprise by Meredith Sheldon. She was a mix of Juliana Hatfield (Formerly of The Lemonheads), The Cure and The Cranberries. I can not take credit for this comparison though. My wife was the one who delivered it and I have to say that she was spot on. So far so good. This night was on fire and it seemed as though it could not get any better. Then The Lemonheads finally take the stage (or Evan Dando and backing band).
Evan takes the stage by himself. We are right there in the front and ready to experience our youth one more time as we relive our glory days and keeping the dream of the 90’s alive. From the first strum of the guitar we start to notice things are just not right. His demeanor seems like someone had just pissed in his Cheerios. He barely spoke a word and rolled from one song to the next with maybe a little “Thanks” and a frown. He was rolling his eyes musically and physically. Then the band came out. At this time they were reciting the whole It’s A Shame About Ray in its entirety (Except they did not play Mrs. Robinson for some ungodly reason). One redeeming factor is that this album is full of sing along songs and it is a very fun album. It was brought down by the delivery though. Another redeeming quality was the energy that Fred and the drummer had, and at least they both had bright smiles on their faces. I know that Fred is a big fan of The Lemonheads and he carried his bass proudly…however I could sense a confusion on his face as well as the drummer.
Again, something was not right. It was Evans birthday, and let’s face it, he is not getting any younger. Was this the issue? I really don’t know. It’s a shame that we had to experience this band, this album with such a lackluster performance by its creator. And, as let down as I was personally, I was more bummed out for my wife, who as I stated before is a HUGE The Lemonheads fan. She was so excited for this show. It’s hard to not take it personally in a situation like this. I mean, we paid good money for these tickets…actually we bought tickets twice. The first time we were unable to go due to circumstances out of our control, but I digress. We had gone through the trouble of getting a babysitter and looked forward to this show with great anticipation. I guess The Lemonheads left us a little soured.
Now, I know everyone has a bad night. I also know that it can be hard to go out night after night and play shows, it can definitely wear you down. Especially when you are 45 years old…and a brand new 45 at that. With all of this being said, we still left the show feeling like we had been let down, but we did not let it determine the quality of the night as a whole. Like I said earlier we were out together for the first time in ages, we ate at our favorite restaurant, and we found a little gem in the French Broad Chocolate Lounge (I highly recommend the Hot Chocolate and the Chocolate Creme Brulee).
I still want to recommend checking out The Lemonheads as a band. Start off with It’s A Shame About Ray, then go backwards from there. They were a staple in my music collection in the 90’s and they are still an active part of it today. After sleeping on it, I feel okay with how the show went down. I only hope that not all of the shows on this tour have and or will be relived night after night in this same way…with the rolling of the eyes musically and physically.
So to recap: Great company (My wife). Great food (New Jerusalem Cafe and French Broad Chocolate Lounge). Great opening acts. Then The Lemonheads. They might have been the headliner of the concert, but they certainly were not the headliner of the entire evening…Though I am still a big fan.