It’s A Shame About Nostalgia: The Lemonheads Leave A Sour Taste At The Bowery


Last night at the Bowery Ballroom, Evan Dando and the current iteration of the Lemonheads were scheduled to play their 1992 breakthrough record It’s A Shame About Ray in its entirety. The band made the crowd wait an hour for them to take the stage, and when Dando finally deigned to make an appearance, he told the crowd his voice was shot and that the show wasn’t going to happen. He performed the B-side “Being Around” to prove he couldn’t sing and then followed up with the solo track “All My Life.”

According to various accounts on Twitter and in the blogosphere, things didn’t get much better after that. A few choice descriptions from the always-blunt Brooklyn Vegan comments section: “I figured there was a chance that Evan Dando would be disappointing. This went way beyond my expectations”; “No grown man should need to be coaxed by friends and cheering to do his job”; “Even Axl wouldn’t pull something like this”; “would have rather watched evanesence.”

Trainwreck shows can be entertaining, and lord knows there have been several that I’ve stayed at way past the point of musical entertainment just for the rubberneck factor. But Dando’s behavior last night was just insulting. (And it weren’t isolated to last night, either, according to this report from the Nashville Scene.) The audience was composed mainly of folks in their mid-30s and 40s who just wanted to see an old chestnut performed in its entirety, as advertised. It’s understandable that artists to have off days or react against the grind of performing the same set night after night, but that’s part of the deal when you become a nostalgia act. And that’s exactly what the Lemonheads are at this point. The band hasn’t released an album of new material in years—their last record was 2009’s Varshons, a collection of covers—and people going to see them want to hear “Confetti,” “Rudderless” and Ray‘s title track. Making them wait an hour to find out that wasn’t going to happen was ridiculous. What’s the point of rolling into work all bleary-eyed and exhausted if you don’t get any fun out of it? (And let’s not forget that $25 for a whole lot of nothing is an even bigger nose-thumb in this economy, especially for someone who hasn’t earned the diva behavior pass.)

After “Life,” I decided that I didn’t want to stick around for the rest of the trainwreck that might have been coming. I’ve been spending a lot of time in soccer stadiums over the last few years, and one of my fellow fans tends to flip the double bird when a play or call does not go the way he wants. I was standing stage right, two people back, right by Dando’s microphone. When he started whining about not being fit to play, I flipped him the double bird, yelled “You’re a fucking asshole,” and left.

Mature? You bet your ass it wasn’t. But damn, was it satisfying, and if going to see this band meant reverting to my 17-year-old self, at least I went all the way.