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THE LEMONHEADS @ Freo.Social gets 7/10


The Lemonheads @ Freo.Social

w/ The Restless Age, The Money War
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

7/10

While famous for sugary melodies and brief stardom during the height of the alt-rock 90s era (here’s to you, Mrs Robinson), last night at Freo. Social The Lemonheads reminded us that they are much more than a sweet, happy pop group and that there is much more to music than sweet, happy pop. 

Western Australian indie rockers The Money War opened the night. Their dreamy, spacey and chanting tones established a warm and inviting atmosphere as people began flooding into the venue. With an electrified Mazzy Star-like vibe, their set went down well with the early crowd. While they have well and truly graduated from the Perth scene, having played festivals around the world and even breaking into US college radio charts, The Money War are still somewhat of an undiscovered gem for a lot of Perth peeps. 

The hall was nearly full by the time New York-based The Restless Age came onstage. The three-piece brought a unique flavour of indie pop that swapped guitars out for synth keyboards. One minute they’d be singing a cappella vocal harmonies, the next there’d be a fuzzy bass guitar solo. While at times it almost seemed like they were enjoying themselves more than the audience, their enthusiastic and happy energy was inevitably contagious and by the end of the set, they had everyone lively and bubbling with anticipation for the headline act. 

The Lemonheads

At a quarter to 10, Evan Dando of The Lemonheads shuffled onstage. Standing long-haired and dishevelled, hunched over his guitar like he’d just come out of a three-week stint in the Amazon jungle, he and his band preceded to deliver a set that oozed with the same raw, witty, laidback energy that made the Lemonheads so cool to begin with all those years ago.

At times he could be a little unpractised and clumsy; Dando would start a song then stop and realise he was in the wrong key or retune his guitar at full volume, but the audience didn’t seem to mind one bit. Clad in jeans, old Doc Martens and their favourite indie rock t-shirts from Teenage Fanclub to Sonic Youth, the scene inside the hall felt like some kind of spiritual homage to punk, to indie rock and to an attitude towards music that doesn’t seem to exist much today. 

The Lemonheads

After almost an hour-long set, which included all the obvious hits and more, Dando’s band left him on stage with just an acoustic guitar. This wasn’t an encore, it was just the second act. He delivered an unexpected and intimate set where we got to hear acoustic versions of songs like It’s About Time and Being Around, but after almost another half-hour, there were noticeable signs of restlessness in the crowd. By the time Dando had finished up with a cover of the Velvet Underground’s Candy Says, he was almost competing with the audience to be heard. There was something quite sadly poignant about a dishevelled looking Dando quietly singing Lou Reed while slowly being drowned out by an audience chatting away. 

The Lemonheads

Things finished up with an electric, hits-laden encore that left this fiery crowd in a somewhat repaired mood. Dando finished with a spoken-word performance of Gloomy Sunday. It seemed a little strange ending with an old poem about death and suicide. But then it also was very Lemonheads.

The Lemonheads are so much more than a simple remnant from a bygone alt-rock era. They bring a level of simple honesty to their art and lyricism that is unfettered by the judgements of others and it is this elusive integrity that makes Dando, and his band, so special. 

LACHLAN HARDMAN

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