Monday Morning Music and concert review: Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield

Ah, the beauty of YouTube and cell phones. You can go to a concert secure in the knowledge that one of the people holding up a cell phone through the whole thing is going to upload a few clips to the Web.

Frankly, it’s a little annoying, and if I were shorter than 6 feet, I’m sure I wouldn’t appreciate having a better view through someone’s Blackberry than I had with my own eyes. But I’ll make use of it here and show a clip from the show I attended Saturday night:

I’m being nice to Dando in picking this clip rather than a few from earlier in the show before he woke up and removed the hooded sweatshirt that made him look less like a one-time indy heartthrob and more like a dude who’s about to ask you for money in incoherent fashion.

The show wasn’t bad, but it was a little awkward. Dando was clearly on something or dealing with the aftereffects of being on something for a few years. His eyes occasionally popped open as if he were surprised to be conscious, and he’d recoil a little like John Belushi imitating Joe Cocker. He struggled a bit to find the right notes on his backup vocals.

We also had the weird “OK, really, after all these years, are you really a couple now?” vibe. Dando has separated from his wife, and he occasionally stared over at Hatfield like a crazed man or perhaps Stevie Nicks glaring at Lindsey Buckingham. Hatfield, who once teased the whole alternative scene by claiming to be a virgin and sort of saying she just said it ironically, seemed stressed out most of the show except for occasional laughs with Dando while he told a strange semi-joke (as in the clip above) or couldn’t figure out what song was coming next.

Late in the show, the duo played a song Hatfield released in 2010 called Evan. The lyrics read like they’re still in that 1990s Gen X “we would be dating but it’s just too weird” mode.

The show really wasn’t bad. Hatfield has aged, but she has aged well. Just ask the friend with whom I attended the show, who seemed happy to be within 20 feet of one of his longtime crushes. Her voice is as pleasant as ever, and Dando was selfless enough to let her take the lead on his hit Into Your Arms.

But I left feeling a little like a voyeur. Did a couple of hundred of us just spend 90 minutes in the personal space of a couple that continues to drive from town to town playing songs about how they can’t quite work things out? Are we essentially rooting for them not to find happiness? Ever?

Monday Morning Music: Theme song from a show that should’ve been bigger

I have fond memories of the sketch comedy show The Edge, but I’m not sure if it’s because (A) it was funny, (B) I always liked the non-Downtown Julie Brown or (C) I was ahead of the rest of the country in having a crush on a certain future cornerstone of NBC’s Thursday night comedy lineup. (No, not Wayne Knight.)

The comedy clips in this segment aren’t that great, but it has the better of the two theme songs. I was once told it was a tune by Yello, but I can’t seem to verify that. Music starts at 1:30 mark:

Monday Morning Music: Zwan, “Honestly”

It’s not surprising, but it’s a shame Billy Corgan’s post-Pumpkins band Zwan didn’t work out. He kept powerhouse drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, added guitarists Matt Sweeney and David Pajo, then added bassist/backup vocalist Paz Lenchantin. All of the band members had some sort of indie cred from previous bands.

Having three guitarists along with an active bass player and busy drummer can lead to a train wreck, but Zwan sounded terrific. The guitarists all found spaces to play. Lenchantin’s vocals were a pleasant complement to Corgan’s, reflecting his surprisingly sunny lyrics.

Offstage, of course, it was a disaster, and the band’s breakup was full of bitter accusations of this and that. Corgan and Chamberlin went back to Smashing Pumpkins but neglected to bring back anyone else, and the Pumpkins continue today with maybe one-tenth of the attention they earned with the classics Gish and Siamese Dream. I refuse to give up on Corgan, who sounded reasonable and insightful in several interviews on the Rush documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage, but it’s clear that fans are only willing to follow him through so many dissolved bands.

In the meantime, Zwan leaves us with one solid album, including this highlight: