Evan Dando had some different playing skills to add to his acoustic set at City Winery Atlanta on Tuesday, May 23rd. Overall, he played 47 songs, a set of Lemonheads favorites and solo songs mixed with a lot of covers that paid tribute to artists he loves. The cover songs are mostly drawn from his covers albums, Varshons (QRO review) and Varshons 2 (QRO review).
Dando started the long set with a classic Lemonheads tune, “Being Around”. After the line, “Why don’t you get on your knees and scrub me,” he scraped his guitar pick against the string of his guitar to make a scratching sound that sounded like scrubbing. Next, during “The Outdoor Type”, in the middle, he played on top of his guitar like a hand drum.
Then he played a very intimate intro of “Hard Drive”. He did it so quietly that the rustling of the audience could be clearly heard, even though his playing was amplified. He gracefully brought the energy up and then back down and then back up with ranging intensity via his vocals and guitar playing. Dando occasionally switched to a different microphone which had an echo sound on his vocals which fills in the space very well and adds a wide atmosphere.
At one point, he played the guitar with only his strumming hand and did various silly acts with his fretting hand like holding the universal metal music sign of “devil horns” or scratching his back. Other times, he went between a commanding vocal delivery to an intimate singer-songwriter, campfire vibe. Between each song, Dando left no space. One song’s last note is indistinguishable from the next song’s first note. It’s like his own version of a classical concerto with multiple movements. It just blends together.
He “worked the microphone” very well, getting very close to it to give a very intimate and lush effect and backs off for the wide open loud parts. In “Bit Part”, he left intentional spaces for the audience to sing the backup vocals multiple times. On “Ride with Me”, Dando had a very distinct echo effect on his vocals that fills in the space he leaves between each line very well. This song is about Charles Manson picking up hitchhikers.
Then he brought out Will Wdkvicala, an 18-year-old who had recorded a Lemonheads song on social media and tagged The Lemonheads. Wdkvicala used the effects mic and picked up the electric guitar. Dando and Wdkvicala did a few duets where they both play guitar, singing and harmonizing with each other very well. After a few duets, Wdkvicala sang backup “oohs” and “ahhs” on another song that Dando played. Dando abruptly stopped the song, exclaiming, “I already played that one”, which was met with applause from the audience. Then Wdkvicala left the stage.
During “Down About It”, Dando walked down off the stage to a nearby table and let someone sitting at the table strum his guitar while he fretted the chords. He emanated an energy that’s magnetic, and people paid attention to him. Even when he was not doing something particularly interesting or impressive, he always had this pull to turn peoples’ heads.
For the rest of the show, beginning with “It’s a Shame About Ray”, Dando switched between the effect microphone and his regular mic in a seemingly experimental and non-pre-planned way. It took him a few seconds to switch each time to where he even sings in transit from one microphone to the other.
At some points, Dando played the guitar with higher pitched chords that sound a bit like a mandolin as opposed to a guitar. Other times, he sang intentionally away from either microphone and hit harsh accents on his guitar. It’s probably difficult to keep up with such a long set list, but it was charming watching how he played. Sometimes he’d start a song, stop quickly and put on a capo, take it off, then put it on again, trying to find the right key. Other times, he started a song on guitar, and asked someone in the front row, “I didn’t play that yet, right?”
Doing a cover of The Allman Brothers song, “Sweet Melissa”, Dando started very well and similar to the record version, sounding a lot like Gregg Allman. He probably chose that song to play in Georgia. When he got to the bridge, he said, “I forgot how that part goes…”, then ended the song.
The surprise number of the set was “If I Can’t Have You” by The Bee-Gees. He played it slowly, softly with strong vocals. Just like he had the whole show, Dando very swiftly changed songs. On one or two songs, he unplugged his acoustic guitar from electricity and sang to and with the audience. This was a nice change of pace.
Dando did well to keep things interesting by mixing fast and slow songs, and the guest was a great addition in the middle of the set.
The Outdoor Type (Smudge)
My Drug Buddy
The Turnpike Down
I’ll Be Here in the Morning (Townes van Zandt)
How Much I’ve Lied (Gram Parsons)
Snow Don’t Fall (Townes van Zandt)
Ride With Me
Hannah & Gabi
Paid to Smile
Down About It
Like a Rose (Lucinda Williams)
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel)
Nothin’(Townes van Zandt)
It’s a Shame About Ray
Snowblind (Black Sabbath)
It Looks Like You
My Idea (Chris Brokaw)
The Great Big No
Streets of Baltimore (Tompall and The Glaser Brothers)
If I Can’t Have You (Bee Gees)
Why Do You Do This to Yourself?
The Ballad of El Goodo (Big Star)
Different Drum (Michael Nesmith)
Into Your Arms
Sweet Melissa (The Allman Brothers Band)
If Only You Were Lonely (The Replacements)
Fear of Living
Side of the Road (Lucinda Williams)
Lookin’ For A Love (Neil Young)
Barstool Blues (Neil Young)
$1000 Wedding (Gram Parsons)
Frank Mills (Galt MacDermot)
Beyond Belief (Elvis Costello & The Attractions)
Man Out of Time (Elvis Costello & The Attractions)
Your Home Is Where Your Happy (Charles Manson)