Come On In, the Kool-Aid’s Fine: The Dandy Warhols Gnash It

by Leslie Ann

In a world increasingly worried that Macaulay Culkin’s band The Pizza Underground is becoming the only appetizing option on the table, The Dandy Warhols have procured classic meaty staples and fresh green sounds on the side. Writers Baltimore-native David Leigh Abts and DC-based Leslie Blodgett feast and dish.

Courtney Taylor-Taylor
Courtney Taylor-Taylor

It’s early May and the pools have all just opened in Nashville. After a dip with Courtney Taylor-Taylor, lead singer of The Dandy Warhols, we have followed our ears to the Mercy Lounge where the legendary bandits are nearing the end of a mostly sold-out tour. We arrive as they are sound checking to “Boys Better.” The song is one of the constants in their 20-years-and-running brainwashing experiment to mold mankind into a sexier race.

The Dandy Warhols
Brent DeBoer

They invite us backstage while opening act The Warlocks warm up. For some reason Zia McCabe, the multi-instrumentalist, is stuck with two G-key harmonicas. To avoid a Code Red, someone runs out to grab a C. Tonight she also has her signature keyboard and tambourine; a bass, a melodica; and various knobs, synths, and noises.

The band has joked to press before that they don’t know how to play their instruments. We think they mean the music has created them as much as the other way around. After 20 years, not only is Zia the heir apparent to Stevie Nicks; the tambourine bruise on her thigh has blossomed into a callous.

“It’s not a callous,” she corrects us. “It’s just conditioned!” She applies eyeliner and asks whether we’re including this in the write-up.

Zia McCabe
Zia McCabe

Peter HolmstrÖm
Peter HolmstrÖm

“Keep it in,” suggests band cofounder and guitarist Peter HolmstrÖm. His expression is deadpan, like Bill Murray. “No problem getting ‘the condition’ past the fact checkers.”

Like siblings, all four of them chuckle and move on. Out front the doors open, and soon everyone is rocking out to the high-spirited Warlocks. They’re killing it, and as they keep reminding the crowd: “It’s good to be in Dandyland!”

Just before the suspense is too thick to drink, the Dandys materialize onstage. Drummer Brent DeBoer’s presence dominates center right. We suspect all the rib cages will be sore the next day because soon every heart in the venue is in sync with the drums.

the dandy warhols zia brent

Zia is holding up stage right with her playground of toys. “Bring us the West Coast!” someone shouts from the audience. She grins and shouts back: “Are you talking about weed?”

Meanwhile, across the stage, Pete slices into his riffs as we admire his dancing fingers. Like a sculptor, carving clay with the same chisel Slash once used.

The Dandy Warhols

Courtney is the man behind the wheel of this performance machine. The audience can’t help themselves; throughout the set they toss him bouquets of “I love you Courtney!” Here in what he calls “Nashville with a capital G,” twentysomethings on a mission to reinvent rock party peacefully alongside 70-year-old honky tonkers. It’s a motley crew, but no one is here to play Fashion Police on Courtney’s watch; everyone is too busy enjoying the set. The place is packed.


The band is giving everything to the show, and the audience is giving everything to the band, and everyone gives everything they’ve got. At the end of the night everyone goes home in their underpants, and the venue staff are left to sweep the bras off the floor.

So, the choice is yours. Bask in their tutelage as soon as you can: spring U.S. tour just wrapped, but don’t worry, they’re hitting Europe and Australia this summer and will be back in the States in the fall.

Or, you can keep waiting for the Second Coming.

The band’s first-ever live record, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia: Live at The Wonder—the new incarnation of their beloved 2000 constitution—dropped in March. The LP has two bonus tracks. Visit

This review is brought to you by Team Mother’s Day at the Orphanage. Visit

Photos by Elizabeth A. Abts. Visit


  • kat May 20, 2014 at 10:07 am

    great review! great to have a back stage insight!

  • bunchesofbecky May 19, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    oh man they look the same they did a decade ago. do they ever age?

  • nick May 18, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    killer review. the dandys sound like they’re going to have fun on this one. more than a few boss metaphors. “just before the suspense is too thick to drink,” awesome. i bet they drank some of it backstage though.

  • Leo May 18, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Do they ever play their version of, “All I Have to Do is Dream” live?

  • Anne May 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    This review is one of the most unique show reviews I have ever read! It makes me care about the band and want to run right out and get tickets to see them play. It is humorous and insightful, and leagues beyond every other average setlist synopsis of one dude’s evening. Well done David Leigh Abts and Leslie Blodgett. I hope to read more from this team soon!

    • jn May 22, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      You wouldn’t regret it. As I get older I have the patience to see fewer and fewer bands, but I see the Dandys every chance I get. They are that fun.

  • cloudlines May 18, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Excellent review!

  • Edward Grey May 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    This is one of the better performance reviews I’ve read in ages. Reminds me a lot of the old days of music journalism when the writer was as much a part of story as the subject matter. This review is music journalism – not a paragraph blurb hoping to retain a moment of a reader’s attention in the millennial ADD culture. Hats off to David Leigh Abts, Leslie Blodgett and Liz Abts for this one! It’s inspired.

  • Mere Darling May 18, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Truly vivid and witty –thanks!

  • Rachel May 18, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Love this: The band is giving everything to the show, and the audience is giving everything to the band, and everyone gives everything they’ve got.

  • JP May 18, 2014 at 2:37 am

    In and ensnaring write up. Captures the free roaming frivolous but revolutionary tone that a band like the Dandy’s invokes. We need more folks like this fighting on the front likes. Keep mixing the Kool-Aid with a hint of ecto cooler. Rock out with us in Philly. We love the Dandy’s and are in dire need of an over sized pitcher with human characteristics.

  • Mastodan May 18, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Intriguing! I usually only go to metal shows but I like the idea of going home in my underwear. Wonder if they’ll do a show in Hong Kong!

  • Macy M May 16, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Great show review!!! I am going to see them when they come to the U.K this summer. Cheers.

  • Dandy Man May 15, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I have always been a fan! Great write up. I am pumped they are coming to the East Coast this Fall.

Comments are closed.