the loud bassoon concert scene

Os Dandy Warhols @ Metro, Chicago, USA
6 September 2003

Always a bad sign when you're at a show of a band for whom you have a cursory interest at best, and the stage announcer exclaims that they'll be on shortly, to play for three hours!

I was not even aware that this band had three hours of material to play. I've always been suspicious of the Dandy Warhols … they have some hooky songs, sure, but their overall presence is just so plastic. Their blatant song-pilfering would be fine if they backed it up with some substance (a la Oasis) or actually outdid their influences (a la Supergrass). These elements can help me enjoy an otherwise inconsequential band, but the Dandies all too often seem to disappear into the vacuum of their own self-proclaimed hipness.

Their previous records left me cold, though there was obvious talent to them all. The new record, Welcome to the Monkey House, is bolstered immeasurably by Nick Rhodes's production, which finally applies the appropriate veneer to the Dandies' vacant posturing.

And so I found myself at the Metro, not-quite-but-kinda dragged along by my LifePartner™, amid as lame a crowd as I've seen at a rock show. The show was sponsored by Chicago's über-safe, über-lame WXRT (which itself was a red flag), but may as well have been co-sponsored by Urban Outfitters, judging by the sheer non-commitment to any real coolness among the audience.

These were folks for whom the Dandy Warhols are probably the riskiest band they listen to, people for whom edge needs to come easy if it is to be embraced or expressed. I even saw a guy with a Rolling Stones Bridges to Babylon t-shirt … what the hell is that? "I do so like new rock & roll! I just like it to sound a lot like old rock & roll!"

No opening band, thankfully, but things did not begin promisingly as the Dandies trudged their way through a drony 13-minute opener … look, if I wanted to see Spiritualized, I would, got it? Except this was much more like Iron Butterfly than Spiritualized.

Sensing disaster, I immediately set about drinking too heavily, which had a serious impact on my enjoyment of the show … normally, some stiff drinks can allow me to think just about anyone is the best band ever, but this time, there was no fooling myself. It didn't get any less boring, the drunker I got.

By the time they hit "Bohemian Like You," I was tanked, and had to stumble out to McDonald's for some grease to soak up the alcohol and try to stave off a real puke fest. Didn't work. I returned, having missed the only song I really wanted to hear ("Last High" off Monkey House), only to vomit all over the floor … yet, even this was more interesting and entertaining than the show.

My companions for the evening, not nearly as plastered, were similarly bored to tears. We finally bailed after about two hours, leaving the turgid Dandyfest to the Dandyphiles.

I still like the new record, but I think I've learned my lesson about seeing bands I don't particularly love. I like to think I've also learned my lesson about my rampant alcoholism, but I doubt that's the case.

Review by Rudy Ricks