CHICAGO – When I interviewed the Dandy Warhols’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor last summer before their show in Chicago, I asked him if he knew that 2000’s "Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia" was something special when he recorded it.
Without a pause, Taylor-Taylor said he did.
Of course, I agreed. I loved that album more than any other of the Dandys’ other really good works. So I was in concert heaven Saturday night at the Vic Theatre in Chicago, when 13 years after its release, the band played "Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia" in order.
It was magical.
"Horse Pills," "Get Off," all the great, great songs. Spot on, for the most part. "Bohemian Like You" sounded just the tiniest bit uninspired, but it’s hard to complain.
Having played together for 20 years, the Portland band remains tight and inspired when they want to be. Taylor-Taylor was excellent, as was drummer Brent DeBoer. Guitar Peter Holmstrom didn’t open his mouth, but he didn’t need to. Even though keyboard player Zia McCabe later told me she felt a little "crispy" after post-show shenanigans the night before in Cleveland, it didn't matter for the chronological first set.
The second set – once the album recital ended – did get a little sloppy. First, Taylor-Taylor playfully teased McCabe about being too hungover to come back on stage, so he invited a random fan to come up and play a song. The fan busted out an eight-minute blues tune, and the band played along, but that got pretty old pretty quickly. And during "Minnesoter," Taylor-Taylor yelled the chords at McCabe, who had finally re-emerged. It didn’t sound an awful lot like it was supposed to.
Still, even if they got a bit flat near the end, the Dandys only played their most amazing songs to a mesmerized crowd last night. We all sang along to "Every Day Should Be A Holiday," as well as a few cherry-picked gems from both "The Dandy Warhols Come Down" and "Welcome To The Monkey House." With some extra horn and bass help for the first set, it was near the best Dandys show I’ve seen. "Good Morning" sounded wonderful, too. Sadly, they ended a little abruptly, with no encore, which I expected to be "Heroin Is So Passé."
Even if the show peaked early, it didn’t really matter, because a Dandy Warhols show is great a place to be. And so is the after show. The band lingered around outside, taking photos, talking with young and old fans, drinking wine and looking like rock stars. If McCabe was "crispy," she didn’t show it, swaying beautifully to the music onstage and chatting graciously for a long time after the wall of sound was over.
I’ll keep seeing this band over and over again. Chicago, Madison, or hopefully even Milwaukee some day. When the Dandys’ get inspired enough to get into one of their long, vampy jams, this is my kind of live music at its absolute best.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.