Lemonheads, Vietnam | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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If it's really better to burn out than fade away, what can be said about burning out, fading away, then coming back to do it all over again? Evan Dando, front man of the never terribly exciting but never disagreeable Lemonheads, spent much of the 90s on alt-rock's A-list before getting tangled up in some rather public personal problems and quietly deciding to take a break for a few years. His 2003 solo comeback, Baby I'm Bored, may not have set the industry on fire, but it did prime the pump for the return of his band. The new self-titled Lemonheads full-length on Vagrant is exactly what Dando loyalists have been waiting for: a record that's such a return to form it's as if it was pulled out of deep freeze. It doesn't hurt that Dando recruited Bill Stevenson and Karl Alvarez of the Descendents to help kick out the jams--a pastime he probably learned to value all over again during his stint as a Rob Tyner stand-in a couple years back. --Monica Kendrick

When you hear "Too Tired," the first single off Vietnam's forthcoming self-titled full-length on Kemado, it's easy to assume the band has swapped its old sad swagger for lazy quietcore. But when you watch the video it's clear these guys are just drifting through a different stage of their nouveau-hippie drug pose. After locking the bed of a pickup and tossing the keys into his man purse, front man Michael Gerner walks down the street in slo-mo with the rest of his crew, a bunch of greasy, lanky, hirsute dudes in hipster scrubs lugging guitar cases and drawing long drags from their cigarettes. It's their song playing on the sound track, but you get the feeling they wish it was something off Exile on Main Street. Copping Keith Richards isn't exactly a novel idea, but few bands are doing it as well as Vietnam, morphing narcotic blues into something even more unwound and languorous. --Jessica Hopper

The Lemonheads headline, Vietnam plays second, and Hymns open; the same bill repeats on Friday, December 8. a 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $20.

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