“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
I was still on a desert high as I walked into The Wiltern. There had been many things floating around on my calendar for this evening, but a last minute confirmation for this show made me realize that it was where I was supposed to be all along. With my head in full-on writing mode for my book, there’s a Dandy Warhols show piece from 2010 that will become one of the chapters.
I threw the VIP sticker in my bag as I tend to do, forgoing the elite section for the pit. This is a band I want to watch from the front. Plus, being the venue-sensitive person that I am, and not being a huge fan of The Wiltern- even though it holds some great memories for me– being at the front helps me forget where I am.
The Shivas opened the show, and their seemingly young age was in stark contrast to the vintage sounds of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s that their psych rock evoked. I loved how their sound stood at this precipice of feelin’ groovy and ominous danger ahead. Shrill screams wound into la-la-las, choking reverberation gave into surfer twang. It was the perfect set to sink my teeth into after a few days in the peaceful yet perilous desert.
The Dandy Warhols would be playing Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia in it’s entirety, as the album is now 13 years old. While this is not my favorite Dandys album, there are some songs on there that are necessary in the fabric of my love for psych rock. And this is spearheaded by Pete Holmström’s guitar playing.
As the band took the stage, and Holmström’s EBow filled the room with those album-opening sounds of “Godless”, I swiftly slipped into the vortex of a Dandys show. As the song progressed, I was delighted to hear live horns and a third guitar to truly fill out the multi-layered sound of this album.
“Hey I said you’re godless and
It seems like you’re a soulless friend
As spotless as you were back then
I swear that you are godless
Hey I guess you’re lonely when
I gave you all it took so then
A stranger there is ever been
I guess, it’s what you wanted
Of late, it seems lonely I would be
I begged, I plead
But this is all that I have gotten.”
Zia’s positive energy radiates as she shakes the tambourine on the far side of the stage from me. I barely recognized Holmström as he walked out on stage, sporting full facial hair. In previous sets I’ve seen of theirs, he seemed to shy away from realizing the audience existed; this time he seemed to revel in our presence. He was on fire that night.
The next standout song on the album is “Nietzsche”, from the beginning rocking riffs that mellow out into Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s harmony of voice, to the vibrating notes coming from all of the instruments. This is the texture I want to live within, plugged into something, like I did in Joshua Tree. This is my soundtrack, the music for going into the fold.
“I want a god who stays dead
Not plays dead, I, even I can play dead.”
The middle tracks: “Country Leaver”, “Solid”, “Horse Pills”, and “Get Off” take me out of the vibe I want to be in and is my main issue with this album, but they are still fun songs and I watch the crowd perk up and jump around to these more upbeat numbers. And then, “Sleep”.
“Well I could sleep forever
but it’s of her I dream
if I could sleep forever
I could forget about everything.”
These lyrics invade my mornings sometimes, when I awaken and can’t shake the dream-state. These days I don’t have to; as they roll into my writing and I can think in the illogical, intangible, unparalleled rhythms that only exist deep within. This song lulls.
Closing with “The Gospel”, a sweet, simple, meaningful psych hymn, the twang tingles and the album finishes.
Taylor-Taylor played the acoustic version of “Every Day Should Be A Holiday” as the rest of the band left the stage for a short break. This is a sentiment everyone longs for, and I am fortunate to live within right now. Followed by the next track on that favorite album of mine, “Good Morning”, I wallow in Holmström’s guitar tones. He switches guitars so often, symbolizing the intricate attention to detail in the precise sounds he wants present in each song. I remembered seeing his other project- Pete International Airport, at the Austin Power Plant for Psych Fest, and how special those three days were for my bonding with this type of music.
“The Last High” sounded a bit off to me, and sure enough, Taylor-Taylor stopped it about half way through to restart it, saying that they write them and then forget how to play them. I have always loved this song, it captures something that I relate to.
“Well I was the first to have spoken
And I said just about all of the things you shouldn’t say.
So maybe you loved me, but now maybe you don’t.
And maybe you’ll call me.
Maybe you won’t.
So, I am alone
But adored by 100,000 more
Then I said when you were the last.
And I have known love, like a whore
from at least 10,000 more
Then I swore when you were the last.
When you were the last high.”
“A long time ago, we used to be friends
But I haven’t thought of you lately at all
If ever again a greeting I send to you,
Short and sweet to the soul I intend.”
I spend a lot of time thinking about the people who come in and out of my life. I have known a lot of people in my lifetime, from all walks of life. Where do they go when they leave, and why? I hang onto lost connections, while others sever them whimsically. I will never understand that, and this song evokes this grande tenet of my existence.
Closing with “Boys Better”, it is Holmström’s most showy guitar work, with his windmill playing having the band go out with a bang. The band leaves the stage except for Zia, who creates a loop on her keys to vibrate the room as we begin to go back into the wilderness.
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”