Concert Review - The Lemonheads with Tommy Stinson - Barracuda, Austin, TX (5/31/2019)
Tommy Stinson - I have to say Tommy Stinson is a name that is likely not familiar to many. He most definitely should be though. I do love that Stinson himself recognizes this and sells merchandise that says "Who the Fuck is Tommy Stinson???". For those not in the know, Tommy Stinson was the bass player for the legendary band The Replacements. The Replacements were formed in 1979 and are considered among the early leaders of alternative music.
Now Stinson primarily operates as a singer/songwriter playing acoustic sets and he excels at it. Though from many years and the various tracks he's had to memorize, he does have the occasional slip up onstage, (such as forgetting where to put his capo or forgetting a chord mid song) he always takes it in stride. He's a comedian on stage and being on stage is where he's in his element. He jovially talks with the crowd about the past, the present, about getting glasses, or seemingly whatever pops into his head. If his demeanor is shtick, he deserves an Academy Award because the man sells, sells, sells it.
What's fun about a Tommy Stinson show is that you legitimately feel like anything could happen. It's as if he's making it up as he goes along. Sometimes this shows with the results such as the aforementioned forgetting chords, etc. However, what cannot be understated is this man's talent as a musician. He's a phenomenal vocalist and a dynamic guitar player and he pours his heart and soul into each song he plays. He had the overcrowded mass of people at Barracuda in Austin eating out of the palm of his palm of his hand. He jokingly conversed with the louder patrons between songs and all around seemed like he had a blast doing what he was doing. There is something to be said for this, while some may seem him as unorganized, I think he's just so talented that he doesn't really need to be for the most part. He definitely did the deed getting the crowd warmed up for Evan Dando and The Lemonheads with an enjoyable set.
Rating - 3/5
The Lemonheads - For many, The Lemonheads and Evan Dando in particular served as the voice of Generation X. An immensely talented, but unassuming vocalist that wrote fantastic originals and composed dynamic covers of other's music. While the band is probably best know for two covers "Mrs. Robinson" and "Into Your Arms", the former of course written by Simon and Garfunkel and the later by Love Positions. It is not even a debate that The Lemonheads took "Into Your Arms" and made it into their own. Most people that know the song barely know it's a cover and this is also reflected from a chart perspective with The Lemonheads version having reached number one on the Billboard Modern Rock charts where it stayed for a record (at the time) nine weeks. The original did not share this sort of commercial success. The Lemonheads are also known for their originals as well, with none better than "It's a Shame About Ray".
What's particularly great about The Lemonheads is they effortlessly glide between bright lines of genre, sometimes taking on a more alt-country approach, while at other times performing with more of an alt-rock dynamic. This showed in their live show. The band had an intro song that was played loudly over the PA, I personally have no idea what it was, but it was a hell of a lot heavier than anything The Lemonheads have ever put out. Then the minute the song ended the band burst out of the greenroom, immediately took their positions and launched into their first track. Dando as a showman is humble and timid. He doesn't take time between songs telling elaborate tales of yesteryear. Mostly he will meekly say "Thank you" or just launch right into the next song having not said a word. One might think he was uncomfortable onstage, until you look at Evan Dando the performer. He sings with a booming presence, showing he hasn't lost a single step in the 27 years since It's a Shame About Ray dropped. He holds notes longer than he needs to, just to show he can with an almost wink to the audience like "Look, I still got it". I absolutely loved it.
Some of the highlights of The Lemonheads set for me was their entrance. They came out and absolutely kicked the door in like I've seen few bands do. Another highlight was seeing the band perform one of their classics "Rudderless". The crowd was losing it during this track and it was cool to see the group that was a large mix of Gen X'ers and Millenials moving in unison. However, The Lemonheads tore the house down when they played "It's a Shame about Ray". The house went nuts at this point and was by far my highlight of a great night. If you ever have a chance to go see The Lemonheads, I highly recommend you do it, they've still got it.
Rating - 4/5