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.

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17 comments
loser
loser

rip Nikk Sudden. Thanks Dando

mike9494
mike9494

I was there last night, didn't seem like it was much better. He didn't complain about his voice but they had equipment problems, constantly tuned his guitar and just seemed dazed. When he did play the songs, they sounded decent save for the bass player screwing with his bass and Evan constantly trying to tweak his amp. I love those songs but they seemed like a bunch of amateurs up there. 

Also, those opening bands were hideous. Kinda embarrassing to hear grown women singing about sluts with the lyrical equivalent of a playground bully session. 

CJ
CJ

After Evan's solo songs the band did eventually come out. They played for at least and hour... random songs, not the album in it's entirety. I was saddened by Evan's condition but it did turn out to be a somewhat decent show.

Ahmed Chalabi
Ahmed Chalabi

If he did this in Iraq somebody would've hit him with a shoe.

gibby
gibby

i've known evan for many years.....he always has been and always will be crazy as a stripety blue elf......last night he was great .....sorry you missed the show....i love him to death!!!!!!!!gibby haynes

Ben
Ben

this review is entirely accurate...except it fails to note how in addition to the headliners the opening act the shining twins was insultingly bad and pathetic as well...just a bad show all around.  

newgranada
newgranada

"Saw" them in ATL on Wednesday.  Drove 7 hours just for the show to find out that he was 'too sick' to play per Dr's orders.  He attempted to croak out a song, but then started aimlessly strumming his guitar crooning "I'm too sick to sing", "I can't play" and that was it.  I've seen Lemonheads/Dando close to 12 times over the last 22 years and it's always been hit/miss on his 'state of being'.  Not fun, not cool, lame.  

confidential
confidential

saw them a couple nights before in phila. long set, great vibe, rock n roll i-don't-give-a-bleep moments. kinda great show. sorry nyc

Josh B
Josh B

Great, I have tix to see them in LA in a couple weeks. Now I wonder if I should (could?) sell them

mrbungle
mrbungle

This Heather girl sounds like the whiny asshole in this story. Trainwreck journalism more like  (flips bird, leave website)

Maria T Sciarrino
Maria T Sciarrino

When he started whining about not being fit to play, I flipped him the double bird, yelled "You're a fucking asshole," and left.---

That's the Heather I know and love. Atta girl!

mmc
mmc

Saw him Sat night in Philly. Evan put on a great show for Evan. The biggest disaster was The Shining Twins, and a bunch of drunks kept harassing a gay couple until a huge fight broke out.

Derek
Derek

 It was incredibly sad to see an incoherent drugged up 45 year old Even Dando but to observe the marginally talented opening bands sitting stage right cheering him on.....truly sad for all invloved 

Camatthews
Camatthews

No fucking way. Dont believe everything you read. Especially if it's terribly written.

Mike
Mike

It sounds like she's RIGHT.   I saw him at Southpaw around 5 years ago and it wasn't good.  He was sloppy and didn't seem to care that he was sloppy.

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