Being in this “line of work”, one of the perks is when you get to go see concerts or artists you really like. I’ll admit, I have been a victim of “going in blind, but leaving as a fan” on more than one occasion. On June 15th things were different. I was going in a big fan of the Dandy Warhols, and I left just as I walked in.
The crowd at The Commodore Ballroom was in a particularly great mood despite the rain and cloudy weather outside. Once I flicked my cigarette on the sidewalk, shook off the rain and walked into the Commodore, I was taken back in time. As I emerged from the stairs that lead to the venue, my expression went from ‘bluh” to “holy shit, I’m here to see The Dandy Warhols”. Just to warn you, my review will be rife with super fan moments and (please don’t read this mom) some psychedelic flashes.
The Dandy Warhols’ music plays like a mushroom trip at times. Songs from …The Dandy Warhols Come Down are among some of my favourite songs by the group. I was delighted when the show started with the track Be-In. This track set the stage for the Portland rockers to take us all on a trip. Considering Courtney Taylor-Taylor had a ponytail it was clear he was ready to lead the trip down anti-90s-pop memory lane. I punched the ticket, I munched the stems and I was ready to take the trip.
As the night moved along, the Dandy’s brought us along on a time capsule of their back catalogue. Since the band got its start in 1994, they have been writing music, releasing music and touring for nearly 20 years. They went from underground faves like Shakin and others off of The Dandy’s Rule, OK? album. Then, near the end of the show the group kicked into Bohemian Like You. This single is by far the biggest commercial hit for the band. This performance on the Vancouver stage, felt like an explosion of energy. It almost seemed like the band was surprised from the energy that erupted from the crowd as they played the opening few notes.
The Dandy Warhols Set List Be-In We Used To Be Friends Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth I Love You The Autumn Carnival Good Morning You Were The Last High Minnesoter Holding Me Up (You Come In) Burned Everyday Should Be a Holiday (Courtney solo) Sad Vacation Mohammed And Then I Dreamt Of Yes Well They’re Gone Horse Pills Bohemian Like You Get Off Godless Pete International Airport / Boys Better Country Leaver
Being that the show was in so close to their “hometown”, and near the end of their tour, you could see the joy on the band’s faces as they tore through their set. “It smells good in here” joked Zia. Courtney then added “Thanks for smokin the chron, dog”. The band was joking with the crowd most of the night. On a night that saw the Commodore near capacity, it was clear there was an air of fun the atmosphere. Judging by how fast Zia was getting through her beers, the fun wasn’t just being had by those in attendance.
It is easy to think that a band might get “bored or tired” of going through the motions on stage. That did not seem like the case with the Dandy Warhols. The band was still joking around on-stage. They were still doing new things. This was not more clear than when the band, well Zia on keys/synth, Courtney on the mic and drummer Brent DeBoer, went through a “jam”. Zia was manipulating the music, Courtney was beatboxing, while Brent was tossing in an occasional rim shot and high hat smash. The jam had the crowd in awe and dancing. After it was done, and after we all caught our collective breaths, Courtney chimed in with “Whoa, who brought the glowsticks?”
When the Dandy Warhols broke onto the music scene out in the early 1990s, they got instant attention from industry reps and were soon signed to Capitol records. They never received the “press” that their music deserved. Creative disputes with the label and so on lead to countless delays, and so on of the bands albums through the years. Through all that, the band never agreed to bend or change to what the label wanted. The Dandy Warhols stayed true to their music and to the art they were creating. At the time, maybe it didn’t seem that important to their fans. But here we are some 15 years later. Their music is still unique. It is still the sound that they created back in the Portland. Can you say that the Dandy Warhols are the last great rock and roll band in America? With the way “rock” bands now sound more and more manufactured and their sound breaks into no new ground, maybe you can say that. I think Courtney Taylor-Taylor put it best as the band ended their nearly two-hour set in Vancouver “We are and will always be the Dandy Warhols. Thanks for coming out”