I’ve been lucky enough to see the Dandy Warhols live several times over the last few years. But each time, I’ve had to travel to Chicago or Madison to hear them, which is a small sacrifice for one of my favorite bands over the last 15-plus years.
So the opportunity to see the Dandys at Turner Hall was a welcome one, and as usual, provided for a great venue to see the Portland-based band Saturday night. If these four rockers are getting mellower with age, it’s only a welcome change, as their 90-minute set felt neither dated or sleepy. From glam to trance to electronic dance, it felt just right.
By far, this band’s best work came from 2000’s "Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia," and last time I saw them, they played that whole album in order to celebrate its 13th anniversary.
But the Dandy Warhols are much more than that incredible album. I love the album before, "The Dandy Warhols Come Down," and the one after, "Welcome to the Monkey House," and bits and pieces of other records, too.
Fortunately, the Dandys touched on all these records, old and not so old, sending the medium-sized, but knowledgeable crowd into a trance-like state with "Be-In," "I Love You" and "The Last High," sprinkling in the higher-energy singles like "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth" and, of course, "Bohemian Like You."
After 2010’s "The Capitol Years," (and really, from "Dig"), fans learned there are two versions of the Dandy Warhols: the over-produced, radio friendly one and the under-produced band’s preference. We got both tonight, but more of the stripped down experience with "We Used To Be Friends." Courtney Taylor-Taylor performed a beautiful solo version of "Every Day is a Holiday," which I’ve heard at each of the last four shows – and it doesn’t get old.
Taylor-Taylor, of course, never got too excitable, but that’s his style. He sounded just a little raspy at times, but gave it his all, even if some of the songs were a little slower than on the records. He has such as commanding presence on stage that one hardly notices the brilliant guitar work of Peter Holmström. It’s hard, though, to miss drummer "Fathead" Brent DeBoer – he’s that good.
And personally, I could just watch Zia McCabe swaying to her vintage synths all night long. Like she did in Chicago, she even picked up a bass guitar for one song. (I couldn’t help but notice that we were wearing the same Brian Jonestown Massacre T-shirts, too.)
I never understand why the Dandy Warhols didn’t have more mainstream popularity, but that’s OK. They’re like a treasured secret for those in the know. And this time, I didn’t have to travel very far to enjoy them.
And this time, they, too were in on the secret. Taylor-Taylor seemed legitimately happy to be in Milwaukee for the first time in forever. "This is a secret beautiful city," he said at the top of the show. "I’ve never really walked around Milwaukee before."
And at the end, he said the Dandy Warhols will be back to Milwaukee next year, much to the small, but dedicated crowd’s delight. As I write my review, I’m still basking in the afterglow of this show. Next year just isn’t soon enough.
We Used to Be Friends
Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth
The Last High
I Love You
Crack Cocaine Rager
All the Girls in London
Everyday Should Be a Holiday (Courtney solo)
Holding Me Up
Bohemian Like You
Pete International Airport / Boys Better
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.