It’s A Shame About
Ray, performed in its entirety on Jan. 27 and the Granada Theater in Lawrence, was superb. Then
Dando lost the plot, but the band managed to come back strong.
Text/Photos by Danny R. Phillips
The year of Our Lord 1992 was a solid one for Evan Dando and
his oh-so-sweet power pop band The Lemonheads. That year, their breakthrough
record It’s A Shame About Ray, pushed
by a speeded-up version of the Simon and Garfunkel classic “Mrs. Robinson” shot
them into the alternative rock strata and into my life, forever to stay an
important part of my record collection.
Fast forward twenty years: I, along with a reported 1,000
plus aging alt-rock fans all with memories of a long ago lost MTV that played
videos instead of Snooki on a twenty-three hour loop, filed into The Granada
Theater in lovely Lawrence,
Kansas, to relive those few
precious moments before responsibility, jobs, kids and grey hair took over our
We had arrived to see The Lemonheads play It’s A Shame About Ray in its complete,
alt-country, rock and roll wonder. A great idea…. Somewhat.
After great sets from opening bands The Dead Girls and
Meredith Sheldon, a droopy eyed Dando took the stage with an acoustic Gibson in
hand to play “Being Around,” “Outdoor Type” and Townes Van Zandt’s “Fraulein”
before summoning the rest of the band to plug in. The audience buzzed at the
opening bars of “Rockin’ Stroll,” it surged with “Ceiling Fan in my Spoon” and
the good vibrations continued throughout every single number on “Ray” from
“Rudderless” to “Bit Part” to “Allison’s Starting to Happen.”
For those 45+ minutes, it was a celebration of a record that
meant so much too so many people. Then the good ship Ferrara Pan began to sink.
Halfway through the evening‘s festivities, Evan went
acoustic, solo and self-indulgent. At that point the set began to drag, people
left, hipsters gabbing ironically on their iPhones, boredom setting in en
masse. I could do nothing except
watch and wait, quietly drinking my beer, hoping for the best.
At what seemed like the point of total loss, the band
ventured back to the stage for some electric action, seemingly in a volume
driven attempt to salvage the
situation. It worked, as the ‘Heads started sprinkling in covers, among them
Edie Brickell (“I Know What I Know”); “Frying Pan” from the Victoria Williams
tribute record Sweet Relief; and
Suzanne Vega‘s “My Name is Luca.” Also in the mix were sporadic Lemonheads
tracks like “No Backbone,” “Divan,” “Just Laugh,” “If I Could Talk, I‘d Tell
You,” “Favorite T” and many others from the band’s long career and many
I cannot say it was a great show, I cannot say it was a bad
show. It was a 50/50 shot. Moments shined, songs rocked, the band (especially
the drummer) was killer. When it was on, it was topnotch. However, when it was
off, it was way off. A colossal clusterfuck.
But it’s like this: I’ll take the bad to get to the good.
The many, many plus sides were worth the down moments. I’m genuinely glad I
ventured out on that cold January night and I’m sure that others who stuck it
out through the lull were glad as well.
If for no other reason than to feel young again for just a
little while more.