The Lemonheads @ Irving Plaza | NYC

Does Evan Dando matter in 2006? Has he regained cultural relevance by enlisting ex-Descendants Karl Alvarez and Bill Stephenson and making a cracking pop inspired punk album? I suppose the fact that nearly every person I mentioned Friday's gig (December 15) to said something along the lines of "They are still together?!" pretty much answers that one.

Luckily I know that the best gigs are normally ones that involve a passionate, loyal fan base versus the usual arms folded yawn inducing audiences that plague most gigs in NYC, at least for the typically mediocre buzz bands of the moment. I mean I can't be alone in thinking that the most moving and important music to folks is the kind that has historical weight behind emotional heft that recalls past failures or triumphs, memories of people we no longer know or places we no longer frequent. Do we resign the music of our past to the dustbin of history as we play the role of ambulance chaser and sniff around any old Blog © approved blandster Indie © rock band? If we're smart we don't...that's how I ended up watching Dando and Co. toss off 7 or 8 classics to start their set while the people who weren't pogoing stood in shocked awe or joined the thundering chorus that shouted out every word of every song.

I guess it wouldn't be a proper Dando review if I didn't mention the man's mental state, which I suppose makes sense considering the years that Dando admits to being lost in a drugged out fog in the 90's. The truth is that Evan was as lucid as Evan can be...he seemed blissfully happy throughout, at one point remarking that "We should pay you guys, because we are having so much fun up here" at which point Dando actually retrieved some cash from his wallet and gave it to someone up front. Even the new stuff from the self titled, Vagrant Records released full length went down a storm and sounded right at home with earlier standards like "Great Big No," "Tenderfoot," "My Drug Buddy," and "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You," which surfaced during a mid set Dando only acoustic jam that contained a handful of tunes with no pauses.

Other highlights: two intoxicated audience members trying their hand at fronting the band through "Ms. Robinson," one of them falling over a monitor with a huge thud, seeing almost no camera phones, an Angry Samoans sticker on Evans banged up acoustic (a reminder that Dando grew up in Boston's Hardcore scene), and Dando's mid song communication to his band that reminded me of a quarterback calling an audible amidst ringing feedback. A setlist isn't necessary. Just know that he played everything you'd want him to play (well except for that Misfits song he's been playing acoustically for awhile now). I left this gig knowing that it won't be mentioned in webland on Monday, but thinking that it's probably a good sign that it won't be.

The Lemonheads @ Irving Plaza | NYC