Sadly, many of the grungy pubs and music venues of yore have been gentrified or pulled down. The Curtin is one venue that has escaped the wrath of renovation and retains it’s wonderful decrepit core, which is refreshing in times of smashed avocado and Scandinavian decor.
This rawness bodes the Curtin well. Melbourne support act Spike Fuck sporting an impressive blonde mullet is wowing the punters with her post-punk, new wave inspired songs. “Guts” about Catholic guilt is reminiscent of the late Rowland S Howard. Her ‘smack wave’ version of Kim Carne’s “Betty Davis Eyes” is dedicated to Betty (her partner in dancing duties on stage) and confesses they’re on their first date.
Local trio TV Haze are a tight outfit. Their guitar driven sound and harmonies pay homage to power pop bands of the 90’s. “Swing You Around” and “Laundry Day” entertain the crowd, who have filled the confines of the room. For a band that “started in a little shed in Preston” lets hope they scale the heady heights of stardom.
Just after 10pm, The Lemonheads take to the stage. Evan Dando is sporting a hefty beard, and his dishevelled appearance causes a few hearts to drop in sadness at his state and belies the youthful rock god of old that inspired Ben Lee to pen the song, “I wish I was Him.” But despite appearances Dando redeems himself.
Kicking off the set with “Hospital,” Dando is in fine form. His dulcet tones punctuate each song, and he strums his guitar with aplomb. “Down About It” follows, Dando singing with his eyes closed, or peering at the ceiling. This is to be expected at his gigs, but it doesn’t detract from the pure genius of his songs. Anyone who is familiar with his material cannot help but be moved tonight. Minor chords abound and tinge “The Great Big No,” with melancholy. The crowd sings along, tears are shed. Pills are thrown on stage by some vacuous idiots, who are swiftly glared at by lead guitarist Chris Brokaw. Dando swiftly scoops them up into his pocket and grins. It’s the only time he smiles.
“It’s About Time,” exemplifies the ethos of the 90’s and Dando’s strong songwriting skills. One can’t help but hear Juliana Hatfield’s vocals in their head during the chorus. It’s the same for slower poignant ballad “My Drug Buddy,” Hatfield’s vocals are present in our imagination. Punters cheer and sing along to Smudge cover”The Outdoor Type,” performed by Dando with sheer conviction. Slower “Ride with Me” is followed by upbeat hit “Confetti” and later Gram Parson’s “I Just Can’t take it Anymore.”
While fans may have wanted The Lemonheads to play “It’s a Shame About Ray,” for the encore, Dando comes out solo and treats us to an acoustic rendition of “Being Around.” The Lemonheads powered through a marathon set of hits, rare gems and old favourites, and for many of us played the soundtrack to our youth.