Dateline: 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”
“Little Too Clean”
“Misery” (with a dash of McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” as an ironic improv coda)
“Can’t Even Tell”
“I Will Still Be Laughing”
“Without a Trace” (dedicated to late bassist Karl Mueller, who passed away from cancer in 2005)
“Never Really Been”
“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”
“A Dip in the Ocean”
“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”
“Someone to Love”
“No Better Place”
“Sink to the Bottom”
“Cemetery Guns” (introduced by leader Chris Collingwood as “a funeral dirge”, but it’s among my favorite antiwar dirges)
“Leave the Biker”
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.