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Alchemists of Sound: Dandy Warhols At Southern Amp

Alchemists of Sound:
The Dandy Warhols Rock Southern Amp

Story & Images by Leah Duran
Additional Photos by Oli Fagg


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Cool blue stage lights cast a mellow feel/Picture by Oli Fagg

While ignoring the pain in my feet from standing all day as I wait for The Dandy Warhols, Mark, a fellow Dandy's fan, tells me the band has been known to play shows naked. "Zia's hot," he says of the keyboardist, who (to Mark's disappointment) emerges fully clothed – and outfitted with bug-eyed goggles – minutes later.


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Zia McCabe of the Dandy Warhols rocks the keyboards and those goggles/Picture by Oli Fagg


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Zia is also skilled in the art of playing the tambourine/Picture by Oli Fagg

Drummer Brent DeBoer takes his position at the front of the stage to the right of singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor, the unconventional setup another surprise in the Dandy's repertoire of unpredictability.


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Drummer Brent DeBoer, stationed next to singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor, doesn't miss a beat


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Courtney, your hair looks fine, I swear

Don't come to a Dandy's show thinking you'll hear a carbon copy of the band's studio tracks. Played live, the songs transform into new entities – raw, stripped down and carrying a vital power that pours through Taylor-Taylor's distorted vocals and guitarist Peter Holmstrom's infectious pysch-pop riffs. Drawn-out feedback during the bridge in "Godless," a hauntingly beautiful tune off of Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, vibrates through the metal stage barrier and my entire body.


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Courtney Taylor-Taylor stirs up some far-out reverb


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Guitarist Peter Holmstrom half-hidden by low lights and long hair


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This confirms my suspicions that Taylor-Taylor is a bona fide rock star

It's a religious experience without the choirs of angels or three tabs of acid, though spaced-out licks, catchy keyboards and stirring vocal harmony invoke a psychedelic aura. The stage backdrop – a mock seal of Portland, Oregon, the band's hometown – displays a marijuana leaf and a Volkswagen bus with a license plate reading "420", symbols of the open mindset and groovy feel The Dandy Warhols embody.


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Setting up for the show as the crowd anxiously waits


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Nice shot of the Oregon emblem/Picture by Oli Fagg


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Am I tripping or are there really three guitars?/Picture by Oli Fagg

Colours switch from pale yellows and deep blues to violet as the music moves into the slow, hypnotizing melody of "And Then I Dreamt Of Yes." Stringing the audience along in a collective dream of strobe lights and screeching snyth, the Dandy's get the crowd moving with "Wasp In The Lotus" and the fast-paced "The Legend Of The Last Of The Outlaw Truckers," both tunes from the group's August 2008 release …Earth To The Dandy Warhols…


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So close, you can see the blue of Taylor-Taylor's eyes/Picture by Oli Fagg


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Close your eyes and make a wish!

Older tracks dominate the set list, including "We Used To Be Friends" and "The Last High" from the 2003 disc Welcome To The Monkey House. During the hit single "Bohemian Like You," dating back to 2000, the audience sings along with the upbeat chorus of "oohs." Two cuts from the band's 1997 CD …The Dandy Warhols Come Down round out the performance: "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth" and "Boys Better."


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Can you feel the magic? Can you?


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Blurring around the edges adds to the surrealism of the experience


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Taylor-Taylor holds his guitar up high

Summary:
In one word: amazing
In two: %$@*!#& incredible

My one criticism: an hour is much too short to soak up the musical genius of The Dandy Warhols.

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