Are the Dandy’s still cool after all these years?“I’m livin’ in the past, I used to be cool” proclaims Courtney Taylor-Taylor on Enjoy Yourself, from the new Dandy Warhols album The Machine. It’s a fantastic line and it begs an answer to the question, are the Dandy’s still cool after all these years?
There is no doubt the Dandy’s used to be cool. Originating from Portland Origin, a city already rich in pop music history, they have lead the Portland hipster movement along with other local products like Elliot Smith, M. Ward, The Decemberists, and more recently Gossip to name but a few. But it’s been a while since they were a regular fixture on commercial radio and the summer festival circuit, so heading into this show it was hard to know where they would fit in the 2012 music scene.
The first sign on a wet Wednesday evening in Amsterdam was that they didn’t have the pulling power they previously enjoyed. The main stage at the Melkweg was very slow to fill up and the upstairs section and side bar were not even open. But in the end it was a decent sized crowd and they were treated to a seriously good rock show.
They delivered a great mix of psychedelic jams along with their more radio friendly tunes and the set included all of the big singles that everyone was there to hear. Courtney still looked like one of the cool kids with his man-bun hair and his white jeans – very appropriate for Amsterdam in the spring. And not much had changed since I saw them the first time back in 2000, with Zia McCabe still completely carrying them on stage. She might not be the ‘musical genius’ of Courtney but she is funny and sexy, and lights up the stage with her trippy dancing, semi-choreographed tambourine playing and warm banter with the audience.
The highlight of the night probably came right towards the end of the set when Courtney actually spoke to the crowd for the first time. He started with standard line about loving Amsterdam, that we all love to hear but may have seen before (‘cause nobody rocks like….. Springfield). However he then went on to explain how he had lived on Jacob Obrechtstraat* while writing most of Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia and what a great experience it had been and how much he enjoyed the city. He even tried his best Dutch pronunciations of a few words which got a nice laugh from the Dutch crowd.