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Live Review: The Dandy Warhols w/ Morning Harvey @ Parkwood Tavern


Illustration: Elly Pugh

Not many bands managed to claw their way through the 90s. Traversing the mountains of double denim, whilst avoiding rogue attacks from Courtney Love and the omnipresent threat of Y2K is no easy feat. For a band to actually stick together throughout this time without any unforeseen hiatuses, ‘irreconcilable differences’, or sibling feuds, is pretty rare.

Nevertheless, The Dandy Warhols exist as one of the few outliers to the bell curve of band longevity. With more than 20 years of music making under their belt, along with 10 studio albums, and a performance with none other than David Bowie himself, it’s safe to say the Dandy’s have established themselves as one of alt-rocks most stable bands to date.

Nevertheless, you didn’t come here to read a short history on the most Portland of Portland bands. Instead, you are here to read about the Dandy’s latest travels as they tour Australia with their latest album ‘Distortland’. Now, it’s probably a good time to point out that many people are most familiar with the Dandy’s either from A) Bohemian Like You or B) We Used to Be Friends (the Veronica Mars theme song). This has led many to falsely believe that the Dandy’s have fallen into the dreaded category of ‘One Hit Wonders’.

With 10 albums however, this is simply not the case. This is probably due to the fact both of those singles are pop-rocky tunes. The likes of which are only really sprinkled throughout their discography, as opposed to featuring heavily. 80 per cent of Dandy’s music is fantastically distorted headtrip noise. Like, 8-minute tracks of curling fuzz and spaceship sounds, punctuated with the occasional mumbling of frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor.

It’s something that has baffled reviewers since the very beginning. The Dandy’s just don’t really stick to a type of music within their own albums. This isn’t for everyone, but the point is, they have more good music than those two songs.

Parkwood Tavern on the Gold Coast was a slightly unexpected place to house the Dandy’s, but its generous indoor space probably explains the choice. The band was supported by Brisbane locals Morning Harvey and honestly was a perfect fit. With their spot-on 90s drone and semi-psychedelic affliction, these guys could slot in nicely with 90s West Coast outfits like the Dandy’s or Brian Jonestown Massacre.

A real standout was track Girl Euphoria. In fact, it would actually make a really good Oasis song, in the way they mix fun upbeat guitar, with more melancholic lyrics. Their latest single Suzanne Monday is another great example of this happy/sad conglomerate.

Now, it should be noted that anyone under the age of 25 may feel slightly out of place at a Dandy’s show nowadays. Well, at least at the Parkwood Tavern in the Gold Coast you may feel slightly outnumbered. It makes sense, given that everyone who was seeing the Dandy’s in their prime are likely now homeowners and pinterest users. They can still groove to the Dandy’s though, there’s just more digital cameras in the air as opposed to iPhones.

“Maybe it was just the guy drunkenly stumbling up to me not halfway through the set to say “hey have they played Bohemian Like You yet?” that’s got my jimmies rustled.”

The Dandy’s opened with Be-In, a good example of the long, winding, spaceship-esque tracks that populate most of their albums. This was one of the highlights of the set, though they did a pretty decent job of playing tracks from throughout their entire catalogue…which is very substantial. Although, after 20 years of being professional musicians, you probably get a knack for things…

Some of the singles off of ‘Distortland’ were also played including STYGGO, Catcher in the Rye, and You Are Killing Me. There was a great amount of energy poured into these newer numbers. Given that they’ve been playing tracks like Get Off for about 16 years now, it probably does get difficult to inject the same feeling.

Unfortunately, for those who are on the Dandy’s ride for just the pop tracks it can end up being a fairly restless evening. Surprisingly, for most of this crowd, this was the case. Whether it’s a modern day thing, a Queensland thing, or something that people feel they need to do during droning guitar, they have a real problem with the idea of standing or dancing in one space. For some bizarre reason, they have this unappeasable need to constantly migrate and mill about.

Fair enough if it’s a couple of times throughout the set, but after nearly every song people are rearranging and darting about, it gets pretty grating. Perhaps they just didn’t realise that a 5-minute long track punctuated with pretty much no words other than “I love you” over and over again is completely normal for The Dandy Warhols.

When Bohemian Like You and We Used To Be Friends did finally grace the ears of those in the crowd there was, of course, a lot of jumping. Although, it’s a shame to think that with all of their musical achievements, these were the only songs that everyone in the room really seemed to go crazy for. Maybe it was just the guy drunkenly stumbling up to me not halfway through the set to say “hey have they played Bohemian Like You yet?” that’s got my jimmies rustled. It didn’t damper the evening too much however.

The Dandy Warhols played well, the sound was good, and they played plenty of their timeless tracks along with a few of their new ones. Rounding it all off was a rendition of Godless minus the trumpet, which is a reasonable sacrifice. All in all, a great sounding show if not marred by the slightly attention deficit crowd.

Read our interviews with The Dandy Warhols’ drummer HERE and HERE!

The Dandy Warhols ‘Distortland’ 2016 Australian Tour

ANU Bar, Canberra
Big Top, Sydney
Palais Theatre, Melbourne

Get Tickets HERE