Fountains of Wayne, Soul Asylum, Evan Dando: My Personal One-Night Mini-Lollapalooza

The Vogue, Indianapolis, 10/17/2013Dateline: October 17, 2013 — Just got back from attending my first concert in years. Tonight at the Vogue, one of Indianapolis’ most well-known nightclubs in the heart of the Broad Ripple neighborhood, three catchy bands appeared on a single bill for an appallingly low price. Honestly, for $22.00 a head, I felt as if we were ripping them off.

I have multiple reasons for rarely indulging in live music, but in those extremely rare situations when bands I actually, truly like (or liked at one time) come to town, this old man has been known to grant exceptions.

The evening of excellence progressed like so:

8:00 p.m.: Evan Dando of the Lemonheads.

Best known to mainstream listeners for a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” that received fair radio airplay back in 1992, the Lemonheads were essentially singer/songwriter/guitarist Evan Dando and a rotating supporting cast. Dando opened alone tonight — one man, his acoustic guitar, and thirty minutes of bittersweet jangle-pop at a slightly lower octave than he used to sing back in the day. Dando mainly stuck to the music, very little chatter between songs, and gratefully accepted a cigarette and lighter from a stagehand the exact minute his set was finished.

Melancholy yet melodious, his set was an odd, quiet juxtaposition to the other two plugged-in acts. On my own I recognized “Confetti”, My Drug Buddy”, and the catchy single “Into Your Arms”. With light post-concert research I can confirm he also performed “Long Black Limousine”, “Tenderfoot”, “The Outdoor Type”, and “Being Around”, which is one of several songs stuck in my head as I type this. I failed to note a couple of tracks, but enjoyed the results anyway.

8:50 p.m.: Soul Asylum.

Remember time back in the mid’90s when “Runaway Train” and “Black Gold” ruled the airwaves nonstop and frontman Dave Pirner shared tabloid headlines with Winona Ryder? Good times. Pirner is the sole charter member remaining — the Evan Dando of the group, as it were. Touring with him now are guitarist Justin Sharbono (cousin of former longtime member/songwriter Dan Murphy), bassist Winston Roye (used to touring, has quite a long resumé), and former New Power Generation drummer Michael Bland. This is not your older brother’s Soul Asylum.

Clearing the air with an initial, cortex-piercing feedback howl, Pirner & Co. packed seventy minutes’ worth of muscular stadium rawk into an awfully compressed space. Anyone hoping to catch snippets of Pirner’s sometimes clever turns of lyrical phrase or a gentle, unplugged campfire set came away disappointed and possibly damaged. I was a feedback junkie in my youth (ah, for ye olden tymes of Hüsker Dü and the Jesus and Mary Chain) and find myself fairly starved for it nowadays, but I think I’m full up on it for the next few years now.

Complete set list, I think (corrections welcome from anyone who was there):

“Somebody to Shove”
“Marionette”
“Little Too Clean”
“Misery” (with a dash of McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” as an ironic improv coda)
“The Streets”
“Can’t Even Tell”
“Oxygen”
“I Will Still Be Laughing”
“Without a Trace” (dedicated to late bassist Karl Mueller, who passed away from cancer in 2005)
“The Juice”
“Black Gold”
“Never Really Been”
“Runaway Train”
“Closer to the Stars”
“Gravity” (…I think? Maybe? Pirner introduced “the first song off our new album!”, possibly half-joking, but I could barely understand a word over the sonic sludge.)
“Just Like Anyone”
“April Fool” (…which fittingly ended their program with one last thirty-second feedback trail.)

10:30 p.m.: Fountains of Wayne.

The grand finale didn’t disappoint. I like my power-pop aggressive but harmonious, zippy but not speed-metallic, filled with distinctive guitar hooks but not too repetitive. A typical Fountains of Wayne album is all that and more. Their most recent disc, Sky Full of Holes, was my favorite album of 2011, their most mature work to date, and represented well tonight, along with the older singles that deserve radio replay in perpetuity and a few deep album cuts that were beyond me. Their keen storytelling and their sense of humor were in full effect here.

Complete set list:

“I’ve Got a Flair”
“Mexican Wine”
“A Dip in the Ocean”
“Denise”
“Bright Future in Sales”
“The Summer Place”
“Valley Winter Song”
“Hey Julie” (for which four audience members were invited onstage to play added percussion)
“You Curse at Girls”
“Fire in the Canyon”
“Joe Rey”
“Someone to Love”
“No Better Place”
“Sink to the Bottom”

ENCORE:

“Cemetery Guns” (introduced by leader Chris Collingwood as “a funeral dirge”, but it’s among my favorite antiwar dirges)
“Leave the Biker”
“Stacy’s Mom”
“Radiation Vibe”

Seventy minutes later, they bade us farewell and left me wishing for another seventy minutes’ worth. Job marvelously done, and extra kudos for retaining the same four-man lineup for seventeen years and counting.

More on my experience tomorrow night. Bedtime is nagging at me, and sitting upright in the wee hours isn’t helping the feedback fade from my ears any more quickly. Totally worth it, though.

25 responses

  1. Hey, I really like this. I went to two of these shows and wrote about them on my blog but my reviews are pretty ridiculous unlike yours which are very well written! I didn’t get to see FOW and I’m starting to regret that a little bit. I’m cracking up at your Dave Pirner recollection “the first song of our new album!”. I know exactly what you mean because he said the same thing at the two shows I went to & remarked about it in an email…I’m not sure if I’m going to check out their new album. Anyway, great read! Thanks for posting your experience.
    Susan

    Like

    • My pleasure, and thanks for dropping by! I just read your own posts about Dando and Soul Asylum, and I’m insanely jealous of your photos. I gave up on taking pics after one or two tries because my phone just couldn’t give me anything usable in that crappy club lighting.

      Worst part was, this is the first time I’ve attended a show where security just didn’t care about enforcing the once-sacred “no recording devices” law. (One guy stood up front by the stage and video’d Dando for one complete song. No one lifted a finger.) At last I had a chance to indulge, but my device failed on me. ARGH.

      I’ll admit FOW have done a few obnoxious music videos in their time, but they’re master earworm wranglers. Their last album didn’t immediately grab me on first listen, but the more I kept cranking it up, the more I kept identifying with it. Less bubblegum and a lot more nuanced than, say, “Stacy’s Mom”.

      Like

      • I’ll give FOW another go maybe! I’m really not familiar with anything post I don’t even know when 1990-something.
        I was really upset that I was unable to record more, and you may be bummed you didn’t get photos but it’s wonderful to be in the moment and really experience it.
        I actually asked Dando permission to fill his entire set the day before just incase, but I was worried the staff at the club would think otherwise and try to stop me… It worked out except for my batteries konking out.
        He seems to be touring pretty often so you’ll get another chance, maybe this time next year:) If you decide to make an exception and do another show.

        There’s a nice video somebody linked on my blog of “Frying Pan” in Buffalo, on youtube, if you want to
        watch-they even edited it with dissolves!

        I’m one of those annoying people that “knows every single song” as far as Dando goes and if you remembered anything I could probably figure out the set list for you but it sounds like you got most/all with some googling, but still if you need a hand you know where to find me.

        PS I’m not crazy.

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        • All three bands seem to be in the same boat: they were all really popular at one time, sunk below the mainstream radar, but keep on rollin’ for the fans anyway. In that sense FOW are to me what Dando is to you. 🙂 I felt guilty at the time for not buying a Lemonheads CD on my way out of the club, though — haven’t heard one since Come On Feel the Lemonheads! I think I definitely need to catch up.

          I appreciate the offer to identify what else he played, but I stopped taking notes for a few songs because (a) I was frustrated at being so stumped, and (b) listening to him was a lot more enjoyable.

          And you’re totally right about being “in the moment”. Souvenirs or no souvenirs, that evening with all three acts gave me a much-needed release, neutralized the stress buildup in my head, and carried me away for a while. I’ll never forget that.

          P.S.: Never even occurred to me. Consider yourself certified sane in my book.

          Like

          • So if I were to check out FOW now what album or songs would you recommend to get going with? I had the album w/the little kid on the cover long ago but I don’t think it has survived moving around ect.

            check amazon for used Lemonhead’s albums, you could probably get them all for $20 or less. I’m a huge fan so clearly I think it’s worth it but even if you just got Ray, Come On Feel, CBC and maybe the 2006 self-titled you’d be in good shape. I’d really check out his solo album, in fact I’d even mail you a copy if you’re ever interested. I just burned a bazillion LHs-related cds for a friendly blogger this weekend. It’s my weird hobby.

            Warm regards
            Susan

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            • Yeah, the album with the little-kid cover was their self-titled debut. They’ve released several more since then, though I’m currently partial to 2011’s Sky Full of Holes, though Welcome Interstate Managers (2003) is pretty strong, too. One track from that album, “Valley Winter Song”, was even used in an L. L. Bean commercial!

              My Lemonheads collection consists of a cassette copy of Ray (so old, this was before they reissued it to add “Mrs. Robinson”!), plus a few tracks I dubbed from a library copy of Come on Feel ages ago. I’d be very interested in a copy of the solo album and may have to bug you about that in email shortly.

              Cheers!
              Randy

              Like

  2. Hi thorazinequeen! I see we both are looking for reviews from other shows 🙂 Thanks for the mention of our vids! I wish we had gotten Frying pan but we did get Being Around: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1BMGbVmKcg&feature=c4-overview&list=UUShT4_Kjod4TsI_Yps51B2Q

    Randall, I also didn’t stay for FOWs at either show. I know that isn’t very nice and I probably would have enjoyed seeing them between Evan Dando and Soul Asylum. But afterwards? It would be hard for me to get excited about them. Does this venue have a no recording rule? We record at shows a lot and the only time we’ve ever been hassled for it is when we tried to use a camcorder.

    Here’s Misery from Buffalo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fledeNzRgI&list=UUShT4_Kjod4TsI_Yps51B2Q

    I’m also not crazy…

    Like

    • Hi, Nikki! Thanks very much for the links. It’s fun to see the little differences between shows. Dave Pirner’s voice sounds a little rougher in the vids than when he was in Indy; and Dando stuck to an acoustic guitar for our night, as opposed to the electric guitar in the NY show. I’m now letting the playlist run through while I type this. Good stuff.

      I attend concerts so rarely that, going into this one, I had assumed live venues were still as overprotective as ever. The boilerplate on my ticket stub even said no recording would be allowed. All night long, though, over half the audience took phone pics at one point or another. If I had known, I could’ve been better prepared. Next time, then!

      Like

      • I was surprised he had an acoustic at your show – electric at both shows we went to. I always enjoy seeing reviews and videos from different shows, always interesting to see the minor differences. And get jealous about what was played at the next show that wasn’t at the one I was at LOL. I think you got Soul Asylum doing 99%? So jealous!

        I have noticed an overall more accepting attitude about cameras at shows, probably because just about everyone these days has the ability to shoot photos/videos all the time thanks to smart phones. Even at the big shows at the big venues, they let you in with cameras now just so they aren’t professional (interchangeable lens) or camcorders. I stood with a security guard right in front of me front row on the catwalk at an Aerosmith show last year and took videos and pictures throughout the show.

        Like

        • Sadly, our SA set list didn’t include “99%”. I can think of several songs I wish they’d done — “Easy Street”, “Sometime to Return”, “Cartoon”, etc. But really, I can’t complain too loudly — I’m happy they did more than just their Top-40 radio singles.

          Like

          • I’ve been pretty happy with the setlists. I went to two shows in February and they played Made to Be Broken at both, as well as Little Too Clean ( http://youtu.be/HMs1RG35V7g ) and Marionette ( http://youtu.be/BVqi342QTsM ). I would love, love, love to hear them do Sometime To Return.

            Cartoon is one of my most favorite songs ever. Just hearing the opening to it can make me feel instantly better no matter what is going on. But it’s Dan’s song and I’m not sure they’ll play it again. Easy Street has been sort of a rarity live I think, I went to a show in Pittsburgh in 2006 or 2007 and they played it there. It’s a Dave/Dan song though, so it’s another that I’m not sure will be played any more. It is what it is, there’s so many great SA songs and in the end it doesn’t really matter to me what they play. They sometimes take requests through their FB page, someone requested Keep It Up for Pittsburgh and they played it. There’s songs I’d like to hear but really, I’m just happy Dave decided to keep going and seems to be genuinely having a good time.

            Here’s a nice Cartoon video for you (not mine): http://youtu.be/Buso9QBvV1g

            Like

    • Nikki you are def not crazy-you are my people.

      At the Tralf you are normally not allowed to record…if you check their website they are all “ABSOLUTELY NOT” w/out permission from the artist. I havn’t had problems at other places over the past few years but I used a camera vs a camcorder. I’ve heard that some people are holding up iPads now? That seems outrageous to me, and rude.

      Maybe I’ll bump into you next time.

      Like

      • Awww I think you’re right!

        I’m from Youngstown, Ohio which is about 3 hours from Buffalo. But we really liked the Tralf – really nice stage, good sound and if a favorite band goes back there – we’ll be there if at all possible! And hopefully able to film once again. The venues in Pittsburgh tend to have really tall stages and for whatever reason, the vocals are often too low for my liking at Pittsburgh shows. You can hear the difference in sound between the venue in Pittsburgh and the Tralf in my videos.

        IME using a camera vs a camcorder does seem to make big difference. We’ve been told not to film at places when we tried using a camcorder but so far not with a point and shoot camera. We don’t record whole shows either, which may make a difference. I can see how an iPad would be an issue, that is pretty rude! Also I have heard some bands are extremely strict about the no filming (or maybe their management is).

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        • The Tralf is known for having the best sound in Buffalo and they love to advertise that! The stage is unique there being so low, but most of the venues in town actually all of them that I can think of are high. I’m so glad the show was there.
          I see Soul Asylum went on last, last night, likely because they were playing in their hometown-that must have been awesome! Wish I could just travel around to see all these shows.
          I know it can seem like a lot of work but if you don’t have a blog(do you have a blog?) you could start one & post your videos from shows and all that. I’m sure there are people, like me, who would love to see that stuff and discover new music through it as well.
          Warm Regards,
          Susan

          Like

          • I don’t have a music blog but I tried to start a FB page called Nikki’s Rock N Roll Picture Show. But I never really got it off the ground. Maybe I will start a blog for it. That might be fun!
            Traveling around to a bunch of shows is my dream too! I was sad at work Thursday, thinking I should be seeing SA in Indianapolis and Chicago too. Someday I will go see them in Minneapolis, in their natural habitat.

            I believe that about the Tralf, so hope that SA returns there on their next tour.

            Like

  3. Pingback: Soul Asylum - In Concert In Utrecht - 1994 - Nights At The Roundtable: Concert Edition | Past Daily

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