by Ross Bonaime
The Dandy Warhols are a band that has a certain stigma around them. In the late 90s and early 2000s, they were known for their poppy rock songs, but with the release of Ondi Timoer’s documentary Dig! (one of my favorites docs), public opinion of them sort of shifted. The film focused on the relationship between Anton Newcombe, lead singer of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols’ lead Courtney Taylor-Taylor. While Dig! showed that Newcombe was an addict nut job/musical genius, many people walked away from Dig! with the idea that The Dandy Warhols were the film’s antagonists, a self-absorbed, cocky band who ran from their friend who clearly needed help. After seeing The Dandy Warhols at the 9:30 Club, I must say, my opinion on the band shifted again. If they were that band portrayed in Dig!, they aren’t that anymore, as they came off as a giving band that gave fans a hell of a show.
(photo credit: Ken Leanfore)
Before The Dandy’s came to the stage, opening act 1776 started off playing to only a few dozen people who got to the club early. The band’s sound came off as Southern Rock with a bit of 70’s psychadelia thrown in. The fact that the two lead guitarists looked like Hyde from That 70’s Show also probably helped that vibe. Their handful of songs were upbeat but for the most part unimpressive.
The next opener, Psychic Ills, were a distortion-heavy, shoegaze-y band whose lead singer mumbled through most of their songs. Their sound connected more with the audience as this sound does invoke some of The Dandy Warhols sound. But to think of it, if Psychic Ills and 1776 combined into one band, it’s easy to believe the sound would come off as very Warhol-ish.
After a flag was lowered that said “The Dandy Warhols”, the foursome took to the 9:30 Club stage. It was almost immediately apparent that this show would be all about fan service. In fact, the first half of their twenty-four song set featured no songs that predated 2005. The first song “Be-In” segwayed into some of the band’s biggest hits, including a harder and dirtier, more guitar-heavy of version of “We Used To Be Friends” and “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth”. A pair of Come Down tracks, the simple yet effective “I Love You” and “Good Morning” led directly into one of the band’s most beautiful songs, “The Last High”, which also was less polished, but came off just as gorgeous.
“(You Come In) Burned” led Taylor-Taylor to bring out his own smaller drum set and continuously throw a drumstick into the air to try and catch it, to which he failed every time. After this, the rest of the band left to take pee breaks, leaving Courtney to take audience requests of solo versions of some of their songs. After stripped down versions of “Sleep” and an audience sing-a-long version of “Everyday Should Be A Holiday”, the band came back to perform some of their newer songs.
Like myself, it seemed like most of the audience wasn’t as familiar with material off of 2008’s …Earth to the Dandy Warhols… and their recent release This Machine, but The Dandy Warhols seemed to know that, lumping four newer songs together to get them out of the way. Their newer songs like “Sad Vacation”, “The Autumn Carnival” and “Well They’re Gone” were fine, but the set lagged under these lesser-known and not as exciting songs.
After that diversion, the band came back with “Solid”, an incredibly fun song for anyone who remembers it from Undeclared (please tell me you do), their first song from their first album “The Dandy Warhols T.V. Theme Song”, followed by one of their biggest hits ‘Bohemian Like You”, complete with “woo-hoo”’s from the audience. During this period, Taylor-Taylor reminisced about their days playing the old 9:30 Club, where they played downstairs while Edwyn Collins performed upstairs, with Ivy as his opener.
“Get Off” and “Godless” showed me that their guitarist Peter Holmstrom is a very underappreciated guitarist. I’m pretty convinced this guy can do anything after seeing his talents in all sorts of genres and styles.
The Dandy Warhols started taking fan requests again, playing “Minnesoter”. They followed up this by saying that they wouldn’t do the “fake leaving then coming back for an encore” thing, but would rather end their set with “Country Leaver” and make it the best damn song they could.
The Dandy Warhols immediately impressed me, much more interested in giving fans what they want rather than playing material from their newest albums that quite frankly, fans don’t want to hear as much as their older stuff. The Dandy Warhols impressed and showed that their flair, style and performance hasn’t died down over the years.