Evan Dando is probably still trying to live down the last tour that brought him to town. He was an ill-advised and notably unpopular choice as one of the re-formed MC5’s frontmen; there were reports of him falling down on stage and getting into fistfights with hecklers. In Boston he merely looked and sounded way out of place.
Not the case last weekend, where Dando was back to what he does best. He’s lately re-formed the Lemonheads (or formed a new band called the Lemonheads), with whom he’s played scattered gigs and made an upcoming album. And on January 21 at the Paradise Lounge he did a Lemonheads set without the band, just an electric guitar and a bunch of distortion pedals (including a looping device that he put to good use on “Ride with Me”). Seeming far more relaxed than last time, Dando drew a surprisingly young crowd, much of which couldn’t have been past elementary school in 1992, when It’s a Shame About Ray came out.
The friendly, goofy opener, “Being Around,” and the Gram Parsons cover “How Much I Lied” both harked back to the sensitive vagabond role that Dando’s always been good at. But the new songs returned to the darker confessional tone of the underrated last Lemonheads album, Car Button Cloth: “Pittsburgh” and “Bedroom Ritual” respectively owned up to transgressions with drugs and sex. (“Jesus Christ and mother-fuck, I can’t believe how I’ve pushed my luck,” he claimed in the first.) Cozier numbers like “Down About It” were in there too, but he waited till a dozen songs into the set to play anything from Ray. Point taken: it’s not the only good album he’s made.
New York rockers the Mooney Suzuki were also on the outs at this time last year: they made an album (Alive & Amplified) with the Matrix, the star production team who helped Liz Phair score a hit single and piss off her core audience — in contrast, the Mooney Suzuki managed only the latter. So on Saturday at T.T. the Bear’s Place, they largely forgot about that disc and plugged the next one, which singer Sammy James promised will be “one of the greatest things that’s ever happened.” And one of the new songs they played bore him out. It was an encore ballad, done in British Invasion style, that offers consoling words to rockers worrying about their age: “You’ll never be older than dinosaur bones/And you’ll never be older than the Rolling Stones.” Brilliant.
Despite a couple of borrowed Zeppelin licks and sampled background vocals on one tune, the Mooney Suzuki have apparently given up casting for a crossover hit and returned to the gritty, garagy rock that made their name. It’s easy to imagine them getting as old as, say, the Fleshtones, and every bit as dependable.
On the Web:
Evan Dando: http://www.evandando.com
The Mooney Suzuki: http://www.themooneysuzuki.com