"I Love You" by the Dandy Warhols, which came just after midset, is already a hypnotic song with its fuzzy edges, but last night the Dandys took a four minute song and stretched it into a mind-bending journey with strobes to accent each beat, each step outside the mundane. Zia McCabe's whisper of a chorus somehow passed through the pulsing haze of guitar feedback and echoing swirl of sounds, over the heartbeat cadence of Brent DeBoer's steady percussion and into your brain. At the end of the tune, McCabe said, "If that song didn't make you feel fucked up, this song will. That's the nice thing about our shows. If you buy the ticket, you don't have to buy the drugs too." The follow up was the equally tripped out but more organic "Mohammed."
The Dandys started the show started with "Pete International Airport" as an intro that bled right into its early classic, "Boys Better." This was the Dandys in high form, four people who have brought together their energies to put forth a show that is well-honed but fresh. The crowd's notable enthusiasm inspired McCabe to say that while Chicago had given this crowd a run for its money, this audience was possibly even better.
The group selected songs from most of its career for the set with a couple of newer songs from This Machine, including "The Autumn Carnival" and "Sad Vacation." But it was "I Love You" that proved to be the powerhouse performance of the entire set, alongside "Mohammed," and some of the older material.
In the middle of the set, everyone but Courtney Taylor-Taylor left the stage. He joked about how they were all going to the bathroom and then performed "Every Day Should Be A Holiday," pointing one of his two mikes to the audience and encouraging everyone to sing along. That was followed by a short version of "Sleep."
The Dandys saved three of their most beloved numbers for last, starting with "Bohemian Like You," and the room went off more than before -- it's one of those rare songs that resonates with a mass audience while also being a favorite among older fans. That was followed by "Get Off" and "Godless," which inspired more than a few people to sing along.
"Country Leaver" would have been the encore, but the Dandys didn't bother leaving the stage because it would have killed the incredible energy and momentum of the night. Taylor and Peter Holmström proved that being flashy and super technical definitely takes second place to sonic creativity and the ability to use raw sound in a musical way. The Dandys have a knack for making the weird coexist with the conventionally melodic.
At the very end, McCabe came back on stage and, in the charming way only she can, she thanked us profusely for being the kind of audience that clearly appreciated the music. In thanks, she sang a song about the daisy on her toe.
Earlier in the evening, the band 1776 from Washington opened the show with a set of songs reminiscent of T. Rex but with a psychedelic sheen. The bass player sounded like he was playing with flat wound strings; the tone was so smooth that, when he did slides, there wasn't the same sound texture as round wounds. This gave the low end a fluidity and smoothness of tone that boosted the overall sound of the band.
The singer's vocals, meanwhile, were pleasantly scratchy like an young Paul Westerberg, and the dynamics of the band, while tight, also allowed for some controlled chaos. Even when the band seemed to be mining old power pop territory for inspiration, it also tapped into the gritty sounds the Northwest has been known for since the '60s.
After 1776, Wymond Miles took the stage with his three bandmates including James Yardley on bass and backing vocals, Andrew Warner on drums and Ela J on guitar, keys and backing vocals. Beginning with "Strange Desire," the first track from his new record, Under the Pale Moon, Miles created the kind of musical climate where past and present intermingle. Sounding at times like a complete synthesis of a '60s wall-of-sound aesthetic, late '70s post-punk in the rhythms, with shades of David Bowie. The quartet created a sweeping, emotionally stirring soundscape cut into roughly four minute segments. For a band that had only been together for four days, this was an absolutely strong performance.
Andrew Warner has long been one of the best, most underrated drummers with an obviously keen ear for dynamics and texture. James Yardley, too, has established himself well as a bass player both alongside Warner in Snake Rattle Rattle Snake and Miles in Pinkku. His feel for when to make the tone angular and when to smooth it out and how to hit it with the right force in every moment was impressive. Ela J was the perfect complement and counterpoint to Miles's ghostly/fiery guitar work, and her emotionally vibrant singing added warmth to Miles's otherworldly yet soulful and often urgent singing. For pretty much a first real show, this one set a high watermark for what the band can do from here.
Personal Bias: I've been a fan of The Dandys since first seeing the band open for Curve at the Ogden in early summer, 1998. The Dandys left a strong impression then and have only got better.
Random Detail: Met a guy who came here from South Dakota to see the Dandys and was going to Aspen the next day to see the band at Bottom Up. He'd never been to the Gothic before and has just been choosing to go see the Dandys when a tour happens and follow it for a couple of dates.
By the Way: Ran into photographer Mike McGrath.
The Dandy Warhols 06/12/12 - Gothic Theatre Englewood, CO
01. Peter International Airport 02. Boys Better 03. Horse Pills 04. Cool as Kim Deal 05. Holding Me Up 06. Good Morning 07. The Autumn Carnival [on a photo of the set list, All The Money or the Simple Life Honey was here] 08. Used To be Friends 09. Solid 10. Every Day Should Be a Holiday 11. Sleep 12. Sad Vacation 13. I Love You 14. Mohammed 15. Well They're Gone 16. Burned 17. Bohemian Like You 18. Get Off 19. Godless 20. Country Leaver
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