Despite the fact that we’ve been officially living in the future for about 12 years now, the ’90s are still hanging around like a stranded drunk at a party. While there was a period of time when the allure of new songs, new bands and new sounds seemed not only enticing but very necessary, now people are running back full speed into the bosom of the familiar. At the rate things are going, nearly every significant record of Generation X will be resurrected on a stage near you at some point. It’s no longer with wide-eyed wonder that one reacts when one of these shows is announced. Now it’s more like, “Eh, that could be fun.” Joining this neverending nostalgia trip are The Lemonheads, who are touring It’s a Shame About Ray in its entirety in honor of the record’s 20th anniversary.
Most people are probably unaware that The Lemonheads name has been back since their self-titled release in 2006, so dusting off the old record is a no-brainer move. While Come On Feel The Lemonheads may have charted higher, the people’s choice has always been 1992’s It’s a Shame About Ray. But what makes the whole thing kind of funny is that the record is only about 30 minutes long and is fairly straightforward musically. It’s not like the band would have to recreate some sort of Sgt. Pepper’s–like arrangements. But whatever puts the butts in the seats, right?
No one expected a Tuesday night show in Columbus to sell out, but much to the dismay of the steady stream of people turned away at the box office, that was the case. While there was a decent cross section age wise, the crowd was largely made up of true believers wanting to get their fix.
The unsinkable Evan Dando was supported on bass and occasional guitar by Fred Mascherino (formerly of Taking Back Sunday and currently of Terrible Things) and session drummer extraordinaire Chuck Treece, neither of whom played on Ray, or the 2006 record or 2009’s Varshons for that matter. Still, they wasted no time launching immediately into the album’s “Rockin’ Stroll.” If Dando was supposed to fall apart or give a meandering subpar performance (as he reportedly has on this tour), he apparently didn’t get the memo. Instead, the band nailed every song as if the record just came out last week. While it wasn’t a note-for-note recreation, it was faithful enough to satisfy the hardcore that Dando wasn’t simply going through the motions. The most hilarious and distracting part of the performance was Dando himself. His appearance and demeanor made it seem like he just rolled out of bed and onto the stage, yet he nailed the performance like a Russian gymnast. After Ray was dispatched, Dando took the opportunity to take a stroll through his back catalog, both solo and with the band. While banter was kept to a minimal of goofy asides, Dando clearly enjoyed the show, even breaking out an acoustic version of “Hate Your Friends” much to the amazement of the crowd and bemused smiles of Mascherino and Treece, who were clearly not expecting it. Overall, it was the kind of night that makes living in the past seem like a fine idea.