Lemonheads Survive Visit to Thunderdome

By Kevin Gibson

Sweating, bare-chested bodies thrust against one another, lunging back and forth, back and forth beneath the huge tent-like ceiling.

Suddenly, a long-haired young man glides across overhead, riding on a dozen hands, before tumbling to the floor in a heap.

Inside the pit, the glistening bodies slam into one another relentlessly in a never-ending, chaotic rhythm on a rainy April night.

Oh yeah, and The Lemonheads played.

That pretty much sums up the way things went April 5 at Louisville's Thunderdome, the event hall adjacent to The Brewery nightclub on Baxter Ave.

The mosh pit was in full force and young men and women crowd-surfed the evening away, but it seemed very few paid attention to the band onstage which everyone had shelled out $13 a head to see.

It was pretty evident the band noticed, too: The Lemonheads played a short set with one brief encore and rarely showed even the slightest emotion, let alone anything which resembled enthusiasm.

Oh, it wasn't that the band put on a bad show. It seemed more that the crowd's reception — or lack thereof — merely gave The Lemonheads little incentive to do anything but merely go through the motions.

The power-pop trio didn't benefit any from the poor acoustics, but managed to pull off an excellent version of "Dawn Can't Decide" from the band's latest album, Come On Feel the Lemonheads, along with a memorable rendition of the folksy "Being Around" from the same disc, featuring just lead singer Evan Dando and his guitar.

Other favorites from the album, such as the twangy "Big Gay Heart" and "Into Your Arms," didn't come across quite as well live.

Still, "It's a Shame About Ray," the title track of the band's 1992 release, and "Favorite T," from the latest disc, sounded pleasantly more impromptu and loose onstage than on the recorded versions.

What was most disappointing to many at the show was the noticeably missing cover of "Mrs. Robinson," which appeared on Ray and in the recent "Wayne's World 2" movie and soundtrack.

The band also neglected the upbeat "Style" and "I'll Do It Anyway" from the new album, two of this reviewer's faves from the disc.

Ah well, even if The Lemonheads show was a bit spotty, I won't go so far as to blame the band or even the promotion of the event. Hey, who would expect to find a mosh pit in the middle of a college rock show?

Pearl Jam, yes, but The Lemonheads? Seemed many of those initiating the slamming and surfing might not have been there to see the band at all, but solely to wreak a little havoc.

Thank goodness none of that went on during the opening act, an Australian act called The Flops. This trio was excellent, and they didn't have to compete with the most pit for the audience's attention.

The Flops served up an impressive selection of three-chords-in-your-face originals and topped it all off with an electrified cover of John Waite's "Missing You."

The band indicated they have a new CD on the way, and odds are it would be a good way to spend 15 bucks. Do me a favor, though, and wait a couple of weeks so that I can get one before they're all gone.

Thanks.