Graded on a Curve:
The Dandy Warhols,
Odditorium or Warlords of Mars

The Dandy Warhols play stadiums in my head. In the real world they’ve been relegated to playing clubs, which is a gross injustice seeing as how they’re the greatest American band this side of Grand Funk Railroad. The unfairness of it all just reaffirms my belief that life ain’t fair and most people are complete morons.

Plenty of folks know the Dandy Warhols only through 2004’s Dandys vs. Brian Jonestown Massacre documentary Dig!, or a small handful of songs including “Bohemian Like You,” “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth” (with its catch phrase “Heroin is so passe”), and “Boys Better.” But they’ve released scads of other fantastic songs, as you know if you’ve been attending the biweekly Dandy Warhols’s concerts at the stadium in my head.

At the stadium shows in my head, opening acts have included the Rolling Stones (who’ve been met with catcalls along the lines of “Where’s Mick’s wheelchair?”), Aerosmith (who’ve been run off stage by some epic booing), the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who on one memorable occasion were pelted with objects both large and small and were seen backstage whimpering), Radiohead (whose performance was best summed up by a collective “Wake me up when it’s over”), and the Foo Fighters (about whom the general consensus was something along the lines of “Think I’ll hit the john”). Only the dead but alive, alive but dead Jerry Lee Lewis escaped abuse, most likely because the audience was terrified into silence by the prospect of getting collective ass kicked.

Each and every one of these bands humiliated itself like a ninth grader pissing himself after being hit in the nuts playing dodgeball, but nobody in the SRO audience really cared; they were cheering like Nazis at a Nuremberg Rally as the Dandys took the stage.

The one time I actually saw the Dandys, they played 2000’s Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia in its entirety, but I really wish they’d played 2005’s Odditorium or Warlords of Mars, cuz it’s got more personality, pluck and verve than Tales, to say nothing of lots of jingle jangle and a really cool drone. Most bands go from simple to slick over time, but the Dandy Warhols did the opposite, because they’re so fucking great they can even turn back time do things ass backwards and come up smelling like parsley, sage, rosemary, and really good weed.

Meanwhile, back in the stadium in my head lead singer and big time sex symbol Courtney Courtney-Taylor adjusts his mike, big time sex symbol and keyboard whiz Zia McCabe turns dials, guitarist Peter Holmström tunes up, and drummer Brent DeBoer seats himself behind the drums. By this time various members of the audience have already passed out just being in the Dandy Warhols’ exalted presence, and they have to be crowd surfed to the 44-member team of volunteer emergency physicians in attendance to deal with just such occurrences.

The Dandy Warhols open the show with “Smoke It,” a hard-driving pot anthem that will have even your most puritanical straightedger hitting the bong. Next up is “Down Like Disco,” a psychedelic groover in which Courtney-Taylor can’t decide whether he wants to go down like disco or not, although he doesn’t clarify what going down like disco actually means. Is disco a smooth beverage that goes down easy? Is he saying he wants to be as get down righteous as disco? Or is he saying disco’s dead? If so, somebody’s going to have to inform the people doing the bump at the disco in my head.

Next up is the heavy on the kick drum bump and grinder “Love Is the Next Feel Awful,” which is followed by the catchy and–dare I say it?–folksy “All the Money or the Simple Life Honey.” On follow-up “Easy” the Dandy’s can’t decide whether they want to be T. Rex or the “Miss You”-era Rolling Stones, and end up sounding better than both of ‘em.

For their next number they go full hillbilly on “The New Country,” as Courtney-Taylor fills you in with a “yee ha!” He says he’s movin’ out, but what does he plan to do in the sticks? Grow his own weed, maybe, or star in a remake of Green Acres?

The Dandy’s switch gears on their next number, the semi-robotic “Everyone Is Totally Insane.” Then they switch gears again on the Middle Eastern flavored drone chant “There Is Only This Time,” which is half as long but two times better than the Stooges’ 1969 foray into hypnotic drone, “We Will Fall.” Take that, Iggy!

The Dandy Warhols close their set with the almost 11-minute “A Loan Tonight,” a full-on electric coffee grinder featuring heavily distorted vocals and a repetitive synth riff over which Holmström plays some of the most demented guitar this side of the Velvet Underground’s “I Heard Her Call My Name.” “A Loan Tonight” ain’t as good as its similarly long-winded companion “The Creep Out” from 1997’s The Dandy Warhols Come Down, but it’s still really great and will make for the perfect dance with dad at the wedding reception after we’ve all become zombies.

After maybe a 5-minute wait (the Dandys would never keep you hanging like most of the wipe ass bands in the world), they return to stage and hammer out “Boys Better,” which ain’t on Odditorium but is probably their best song ever, so everybody goes crazy when they hear it. Then they finish things off with “Holding Me Up,” the swingingest, grooviest, put your hands in the air sway along ever committed to vinyl.

As an elated crowd streams out of the stadium in my head to the parking lot, I sit in my sky booth, finalizing the details of their next show in the stadium in my head with the Dandy’s booker. I’m telling you now it’s going to be their best show ever, so get your tickets now–they’re going fast.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A

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