Review: The Dandy Warhols come down to St. Petersburg, make up for lost time at the State Theatre
It’s been nearly 20 years since the Dandy Warhols last came down to Tampa Bay. No wonder no one wanted Monday night to end.
Long after the band waved their final goodbyes at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg, fans still cheered and clapped and milled about the stage, hoping or a pick or a stick or a setlist, or ideally just more music.
All night there were requests for specific songs, not to mention cries like “Three more sets!” and “Twenty more songs!” that gave the Portland, Ore., retro-rockers a laugh.
Hey, two decades is a long wait. I should know. The Dandys have lounged near the top of my concert bucket lists since 1997’s ...The Dandy Warhols Come Down, and like many of the hundreds at the State, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever get the chance. While they’ve never stopped releasing new music — Distortland, released in April, is the band’s 10th album — the Dandys have long skipped this part of the country on tour.
Considering their chops and delivery, it’s clear we’ve been missing out. Long steeped and styled in the delicate arts of sardonicism and irony — singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor literally wore a Chuck Norris meme T-shirt on Monday — the Dandys nonetheless still play like their ambitious selves from the 2004 rock-doc Dig!, delivering each song like they have no desire to mumble through the motions for the sake of ’90s nostalgia.
Entering a stage stacked with vintage gear to the pulse of Be-In as incence-like smoke filled the house, the Dandys seemed to trip out on their own groove before snapping to attention with We Used To Be Friends, a glimpse of the pure pop potential the band’s cult fans always noticed, even if no one else fully did.
Guitarist Peter Holmstrom showcased his technical wizardry by ripping through a rolling cowboy riff on the dusty retro rocker STYGGO and looping distorted echoes all around Godless. Keyboardist Zia McCabe, bouncing and dancing behind her Korg and Moog, tapped out moddish keyboard lines on You Were the Last High, strapped on a bass for Catcher In the Rye and amped up the energy by shaking maracas and tambourines against her hip. Drummer Brent DeBoer’s harmonies shined on Plan A and elsewhere.
Switching between mics to distort his voice as needed, Taylor-Taylor didn’t do a lot of talking, opening up only when a fan asked him about his 1967 Fender Coronado II (he has “triplets,” he said, including a 12-string, “which is kind of like having the Andre the Giant of triplets”). His laconic delivery served as a steady throughline as the band shifted styles all around him — period-perfect psych-pop on Holding Me Up, British-invasion garage rock on Get Off, shoegaze-with-a-groove on Good Morning.
The Dandys turned up the guitars in the set’s final third, which featured their two most recognizable hits, Bohemian Like You and Boys Better, both delivered with some of the most earnest spunk Taylor-Taylor offered all night (he even did a little split kick on Bohemian). The hip-shakin’, punked-out Horse Pills, tacked on to the set at the last minute, left the crowd in a hungry, rowdy mood.
The last time the Dandys came to town, they were touring behind Come Down, and likely played more of that album’s best tracks — Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth, Minnesoter, Cool as Kim Deal. Those didn’t make the cut on Monday, which was disappointing but not surprising; fitting 19 more years and nine more albums into a mere 90 minutes is no easy feat.
But every song the Dandys did choose got its due and then some. Even an older album cut like 1997’s I Love You shone like a centerpiece as Taylor-Taylor’s breathy incantations lulled the whole band into a hypnotic haze of stoned sound, a dreamy, drawn-out dirge that, coupled with the clouds of smoke and pulsing strobes, drew a huge ovation from the audience.
After 20 years, were the Dandy Warhols worth the wait? For sure. And here’s hoping we don’t have to wait 20 more years for more.
-- Jay Cridlin