The Dandy Warhols had their fifteen minutes of fame in the early 2000s when 'Bohemian Like You', written by frontman, Courtney Taylor Taylor, became a worldwide hit. Seven albums and what feels like innumerable tours to Australia later, I am in the crowd at Luna Park where the band is set to perform at the Big Top.
Luna park is way past its heyday (if it even ever had one). Passing through the entrance which is a garish open mouth set in a face with hallucinogenic lights for eyes, I think that it is apt that the Dandys, who are known for their use of substances and psychedelic music are playing here. Not only do the band and Luna park share a history of excess, but both seem now to be past their prime, consigned to picking up passing trade because the hip kids have moved onto something way more cool.
The Big Top is packed when the Dandys walk on stage and launch into 'Be In'. Listening to them amble through their back catalogue as well as some new tunes off the current album Distorlandia, I find myself wondering why it is that this band has been unable to capitalise on their initial, massive popularity.
Over and over during the gig, the Dandy Warhols bring the crowd roaring to life, but then lose momentum. Perhaps it is the choice of songs on the setlist which features some rocking numbers followed by a few solo songs by frontman Taylor Taylor, which cause the gig to lose impetus? Perhaps it is the nature of some of the songs themselves as they meander into psychedelia?
The band does a great version of the glorious 'Godless' - its opening chords reminiscent of 'My Sweet Lord'. But for every 'Godless', there seems to be a 'Reverend Jim' which the band, inexplicably appears to have forgotten and which requires three attempts before they finally manage to pull it off.
The guys in the band are cool and quite aloof, they are focused on the task at hand, I can't tell whether they are enjoying the gig. Taylor Taylor surveys the crowd but shows no emotion. Holmström is shrouded in darkness, his large hat and long hair mask his face, rendering him inscrutable. He finally comes to life during the last song of the gig, 'Boys Beware' when he indulges in some Pete Townsend-like windmill strumming of his guitar. Drummer Brent de Boer is tucked in behind his drum kit and does not interact with the audience at all. It is up to multi instrumentalist, Zia McCabe to show any sustained pleasure during the gig. She gyrates madly to every song, smashing a tambourine on her thigh in time to the beat.
The show ends with McCabe producing a cool 'outro' loop on her synthesiser, she announces that she will be playing a DJ set in the city after the concert. As I leave Luna Park, I realise that I would probably have enjoyed Zia's deejaying more than this ultimately unsatisfying Dandy Warhols concert.
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