It was nice to finally see The Lemonheads with Karl Alvarez (Bass) and Bill Stevenson (Drums) in tow. In 2006 Karl and Bill got together with Evan Dando and put out a record that sounded more like the Descendents (or maybe more like ALL to be fair) than the sweetly sour dispatches of the Lemonheads that you and your older siblings might know. In short, that record was amazing and quietly galvanized a brand name that had sat dormant for a decade. For those of you out there (and you should probably read more) unaware, Bill Stevenson has been destroying drum kits with perfect precision since 1979 for Black Flag and with Karl the mentioned Descendents/ALL. Shows in late 2006 with a band consisting of Vess Ruhtenberg (bass) and Devon Ashley (drums) of The Pieces were raucous and satisfying but sort of anti-climactic without the co-writers of the new LP involved.
Coming out all smiles, wearing a very new Thurston Moore shirt and exuding a certain friendly flippancy that betrays the notion that he would probably take a road trip immediately following the gig in your Ford Tempo over to Jersey somewhere for some food, Dando and Co. ripped through a set that sounded much darker, tightly wound, and abrasive than one might expect if not familiar with the collective righteousness of this lineup. It was almost hard to watch Dando when even more compelling was Stevenson's passionate playing and backing vocals. I have to admit to being a fairly recent convert to the band (I pride myself on being late on bands... 15 years late is probably pushing it a bit though) so I only picked up on the pre-fame stuff that they played like "Stove" and "Comeback D.A." and the Angry Samoans cover "Right Side Of My Mind" on the basis of their sounding even more punchy and raw than the other tunes. I got the vibe that most of the crowd (which was smaller than I imagined it would be but pretty full) was unfamiliar with those tunes as well, and consequently must be unaware that Evan grew up in the Boston Hardcore scene, has routinely rocked SSD shirts (look them up) and now has two Punk legends as his backing band. I can't blame the nostalgia catchers showing up to hear the 90's hits, mainly because those songs are great too. And as someone who is known to get moist cheeks over bands that made his salad days more palatable, I actually take great comfort in seeing 30 something girls in Dinosaur Jr. shirts swaying with their eyes closed to "My Drug Buddy." As good as the early (and earlier) material is, the highlights on this night and back in 2006 were the new ones: "Black Gown", "Let's Just Laugh", "No Backbone", and especially the poignant "Steve's Boy" had me grinning like an idiot. All in all a cracking gig, as expected.
Later at the Donut Pub, the conversation turned to "relevance", nostalgia, Sassy Magazine, and a 3/4 full High Line Ballroom. I guess to sum up, we decided that good songs are good songs, there are very few good frontmen around these days, and that it would be cool to rap with Evan about his thoughts on the first DYS album and the Impact Unit 7".
The new Bill Stevenson produced Lemonheads record is rumored to come out in the Summer of 2008.
I'm so lonesome I could cry [written by hank williams]
Come Back D.A.
The Great Big No
My Drug Buddy
Down About It
Let's Just Laugh
Allison's Starting To Happen
Ceiling Fan In My Spoon
Right Side Of My Mind [Angry Samoans]
It's A Shame About Ray
A Bit Part
If I Could Talk I'd Tell You
The Outdoor Type
Why Do You Do This To Yourself ?
Ride With Me
Gloomy Sunday [Billie Holiday's version is probably the most well known]