The Dandy Warhols at Gothic Theatre, 6/11/13
When Peter Holmström put on his orange Telecaster and Zia McCabe strapped on a bass guitar rather than helming the Moog she plays most of the time, you knew what song was coming: "Bohemian Like You," of course, the band's biggest hit to date. By now you'd think the Dandys had played it into the ground, yet Courtney Taylor-Taylor put so much gusto into the vocals it was easy to get swept into the song, and that spirit of rediscovery and renewal coursed through the entire show.
When the Dandys first took the stage, they went right to playing their now-classic album Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia in its entirety. Holmström created that expansive and moody intro line of "Godless" with his ebow, holding the appropriate tones and letting the delay drag the sound along in the wake of each note. Hearing the songs from Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia back to back like this -- and in person rather than on an album -- gave you an appreciation for how well the band's music has aged.
The Dandys are masters of injecting pop songs with strong elements of the experimental, and they have a pronounced knack for making those tunes accessible without compromising the weird side of the songwriting. Holmström's penchant for using melodic drones and textured rhythms and atmospheres as leads, alongside Taylor-Taylor's more traditional rhythm guitar, created the usual, vibrant, dynamic contrast. Add in McCabe's creative modulation of low-end sounds and higher-register synth melodies, combined with DeBoer's drumming and accents, and what you have is ambitious pop music with enough room to breathe and experiment with the format and structure.
After a typically hypnotic and entrancing performance of "Good Morning," McCabe said something about how the band must have passed thirty marijuana dispensaries on the way to the Gothic. "Seventeen," Taylor-Taylor half-jokingly corrected, to which McCabe pointed out that the show didn't smell any more like marijuana than before it became legal in Colorado. "So it didn't really change anything," he sagely observed.
After "Well They're Gone," the Dandys wandered from the set list you could see on the stage if you were close enough. Taylor-Taylor consulted with McCabe on what should come next, and following the discovery that Holmström played different guitars on "You Were the Last High" and "We Used to Be Friends," Taylor-Taylor switched the initial order for consideration. Seeming to be in genuinely good spirits, the Dandys played both songs as a kind of treat for the audience and for themselves. McCabe then thanked the Shivas for coming on tour with them and told the audience to buy the band's album on the way out. "Follow their career right to the top," she said, "because that's where they're headed."
The Dandys' set ended with the crackling, yet quiet, moody and dark "Peter International Airport," which segued right into a rousing rendition of "Boys Better." After the rest of the band left the stage, McCabe stayed at her synths and struck a rhythm that sounded like her own take on what a hip-hop DJ might do in scratching a record between the low tones and higher frequency sounds. When she was done, she thanked the audience for dancing and noted how that that makes it so much better for the band. "We'll see you next year, we hope," McCabe concluded before heading off stage.
The Shivas at The Gothic Theatre
The show got going with another Portland band, the Shivas. It seems as though this outfit plays Denver regularly but this is our good fortune because out of the flood of bands clearly drawing inspiration from garage rock and psychedelia of late, the Shivas make the music their own by taking that inspiration and some of the sonic ideas and reinterpreting them rather than imitating.
It would be difficult to say if Swell Maps influenced this band, but the warping and expansive melodies and scrappy spirit of Epic Soundtracks' splintery songwriting certainly had a strong resonance with what this band is doing. The band's exuberant melodies are fueled by a wiry energy that makes the band charming in a way that fans of the Pastels and Deerhunter would appreciate, only without sounding much like either of those bands. Rarely is a brash energy so well channeled as it was by the Shivas on this night.
The Dandy Warhols
Gothic Theatre - June 11, 2013
04. Country Leaver
06. Horse Pills
07. Get Off
09. Cool Scene
10. Bohemian Like You
12. Big Indian
13. The Gospel
14. Every Day Should Be a Holiday
16. Well They're Gone
17. You Were The Last High
18. We Used to Be Friends
19. Holding Me Up
20. Pete International Airport
21. Boys Better
Personal Bias: I've seen The Dandys five times going back to 1998, when the band opened for Curve at the Ogden, and this was the best show of the bunch from a band that has consistently written interesting music from its first record onward.
Random Detail: The band had five or six different T-shirt designs available. There was the classic yellow-ish on black with the band's logo and citing its origins in Portland, Oregon. But the other four were designed by each member of the band commemorating the occasion of the thirteenth year since the release of Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia with all the designs excellent and interesting.
By the Way: It seems as though Zia McCabe of the Dandy Warhols wasn't just being gracious and charitable with her endorsement of the Shivas, as the band won over many new fans by the end of its set.
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