The Dandy Warhols: A trippy, well-practiced cool at the Teragram

The Dandy Warhols at the Teragram Ballroom
The Dandy Warhols at the Teragram Ballroom

Playing not one or two, but three shows at downtown’s Teragram Ballroom might have been a bit ambitious for The Dandy Warhols, who don’t have a new record out, and are for the most part considered an “end-of-the-’90s band,” but for better or worse, the Dandys’ bold ambitions have always been the driving force behind everything they do. Saturday’s show, the second of the three, wasn’t sold out like tonight’s show is, but the crowd was eager and seemed to get more and more energized as the show progressed, with the band doling out a stellar set of their signature hazy psychedelic jam rock and synthy dance-trip hodge-podge.

Over the years, the group has strived to be something akin to a modern-day Velvet Underground, and their output has always suited the same scenes and guises: hipster/hippies toking out at the party pad as well as clubsters/scenesters getting decadent and drunk on the dance floor. Like V.U., the Dandys always provided an art-pop flamboyance and laid-back cool that both factions could immerse themselves in giddily.

Call it ambition or call it arrogance, but Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Brent DeBoer, Peter Holmstrom and Zia McCabe are good and they know it. They’re not afraid to explore or get kooky when they feel like it, and after 20 years of playing together it’s still fun to watch.

It was especially entrancing to witness at Teragram, which quickly has become one of L.A.’s best mid-sized venues. The Portland-bred quartet aren’t the first to do multiple nights there and we hope they aren’t the last. Taylor-Taylor even remarked, mid-set, “Damn … sounds good in here.”

Maybe he was being conceited about what he was doing, but he was clearly being complimentary to the venue as well. And the crowd bought in, especially during the hits everyone knows the words to (the cutesy but catchy sing-a-long, “We Used To Be Friends,” and the ironic rump-shaker “Bohemian Like You”), as well as other faves like “Be-In,” and “Get Off.”

In addition to these faves, the night’s other highlight was their rendition of “Lou Weed,” which featured Adam and the Ants bassist Chris Constantinou on the flute. Like something out of Satanic Majesty’s Request, the melodious addition elevated the ditty into a celebratory anthem, and then turned wonderfully poetic and odd, with Taylor-Taylor telling a story about Lou Reed getting his car towed from a restaurant downtown … or something. It was a ramble, an entertaining ramble.

With the death of another ’90s-era music-maker, Scott Weiland, still fresh on fans’ minds, it was reassuring to see a group that’s still seemingly healthy and clearly happy playing together. They don’t appear to have aged much since they were part of the shagster rock set that included The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. They look and sound pretty much the same, save for Taylor-Taylor’s new Willie Nelson braids. Since there was never anything grunge-y or patently decade-trendy about this scene, these bands can still do what they do and not seem dated today. Boho-retro rock feels surprisingly timeless right now, especially when it’s done right by bands like the Warhols.

Joel Gion and Miranda Lee Richards led their respective bands through opening sets.

Photos by Monique Hernandez