Psychedelic Furs and Lemonheads
With the Chevin
Grand Central, Miami
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Better Than: Wondering if the Lemonheads will be good or terrible or both. Knowing is better than not knowing.
Last night, Grand Central was packed with grown-up '80s and '90s outsider teenagers. Most of us have grown out of grunge flannel and goth facepaint, opting these days for comfy shoes and colorful shirts. But no one in the crowd had outgrown the music of their youth.
Opening act the Chevin was fortunate that most of the crowd was 30 and up. The respectful audience watched them play. And even if the room was a little bored, they'd politely clap. Every song was nicely and precisely played, and that was exactly the problem. Lead singer Coyle Girelli has wondrous range and pitch. He hit all the notes. He just didn't hit any nerves. They actually sounded like an overproduced recording, ready for Coast 97.3, right after Coldplay and before the commercial for sedation dentistry.
Next, the Lemonheads took the stage; and the heralded return of fan-favorite bassist Juliana Hatfield turned out to be some sort of cruel hoax. It was a bittersweet moment as Evan Dando and the boys played a faithful and kind of clunky rendition of "Confetti."
Dando hit all the rich, deep notes we wanted from him. Underneath a mop of greasy hair, he didn't look much like the alt-rock dreamboat that he was in 1994. It was nice to finally hear some of their amazing songs live, but it was a little disappointing to see Dando just kind of push through the songs. He barely addressed the crowd. He seemed to be miles away from the stage he was on.
Regardless of his physical and mental condition, Dando's performance was beautifully heartbreaking. This man who was once "too pop" to be a grunge star is now too beat up to smile along to his own catchy tunes. He stood stiffly on stage. At least once per song, his eyes rolled up to the back of his skull as if he was going to pass out at any moment. Thankfully, he made it through the entirety of his set. And we are even more grateful that his voice has remained intact, despite whatever's happened to him over the last two decades.
Psychedelic Furs were the exact opposite of Lemonheads. Their songs are much darker and complex. And despite the heaviness of their tuneage, the brothers Butler were energetic and alive on stage.
Lead singer Richard Butler delivered his deadpan vocals with a childlike grin. As he crooned the Furs' brooding lyrics, Butler shook hands in the crowd, danced like a 18-year-old kid, and winked mischievously at the ladies of Miami.
Overheard in the Crowd: "He shook Chooch's hand!"
Personal Bias: I wanted to hear at least seven songs off It's A Shame About Ray.
Note to Dando: Everyone loves Ray, man!
Random Detail: Backstage, behind a velvet rope, there was a flock of fancily dressed ladies dancing.
Lemonheads' Partial Setlist:
-"Down About It"
-"The Great Big No"
-"It's About Time"
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-"Dawn Can't Decide"
-"It's A Shame About Ray"