Saturday, November 20, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #88: The Dandy Warhols/Hopewell @ Ram's Head Live, 11/9/10

Over the course of this whole 100 shows undertaking I've tried rather hard not to double up on bands. I wanted to experience and cover as many different bands as humanly possible. But sometimes, well, I just can't resist. And who am I to turn down an invitation to what I already knew would be an amazing show? I'll tell you what, darlings, as good as the show was up there in Philly, this here Baltimore show blew it out of the water. So pardon me while I lather on for days about the excellence of this Dandy Warhols and Hopewell show, because it was fantastic with a capital fantastic.

MINI RECAP: Hopewell = Keeping Hope Alive! Dandy Warhols = Dandy As Candy! Overall Score: A

At first, Ram's Head Live seemed a strange, strange place for this show to take place. It's in this kind of surreal part of Baltimore, down by the Inner Harbor, that feels more like a Disney-fied Vegas than a place for indie bands of all shapes and sizes. But after this show, I don't know if it could have happened at any other venue in any other city. It was nothing short of one of a kind.

Up first, Hopewell. With the added atmosphere of some burning incense, they were immediately epic, just as they were in Philly and just as I would expect. The setlist was a carbon copy of the Electric Factory show, and yet everything sounded just a shade better here, a sentiment I extend not only to the bands but the crowd as well. The primal screaming that is "Over The Mountain" was more intense, the ferocity of "Trumpet For A Lung" more biting. Vocalist Jason Russo's smile, too, that emerges at times during certain notes of certain songs, seemed just a touch wider. In "Trumpet For A Lung", the soft glimpses of delicacy amidst the chaotic storm und drang of the murderous mess sounded quite possibly more glorious than I've ever heard. "We're working for you," sayeth Russo before the band ripped "Calcutta" to beautiful shreds for their final number. Their set was powerful, captivating, and pretty dang breathtaking. This, friends, if you haven't yet picked up on it, is a band you need to experience for yourselves. They'll show you darkness and they'll show you rays of blinding sunlight, and you'll love it all.

And speaking of loving it all, here come those Dandy Warhols. As with Hopewell, they too were infinitely more stupendous in Baltimore. They all also seemed in better humor than a couple of nights previous. Or perhaps, to quoth main Dandys man Courtney Taylor, they were feeling "zesty." I couldn't stop grinning the entire set, every song was a gem. Who doesn't love the breathy, stalker-lite vocals of the creepy "I Love You"? Or the bittersweet "The Last High"? Or the way Taylor can exude an air of total and utter indifference, in my mind second only to the foxy apathy of Blur's Alex James in the Britpop era? "Here's a zesty one for you," Taylor announced, before the band took on their biggun, "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth". The back-to-back-to-back shimmy shake of "Shakin'" and "Horse Pills" and "Solid" got my motor running something fierce, and made me remember just how good a record Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia is. Buy it, y'all, unless of course you already know what's up.

During an impeccable rendition of "Boys Better" it hit me that Pete Holmstrom is an amazing, amazing guitarist. And it wasn't just because he can do the ole Pete Townshend windmill move to perfection. This man can straight up shred. He's got fancy guitars and works every one of them with immeasurable skill. "Good Morning" was flawless, the magic spell of fuzz winding and twisting me into a waking dream. Another treat was hearing the not at all oft-played "Cool As Kim Deal", another old school favorite of mine. While Zia McCabe and Brent "Fathead" DeBoer were gettin their bathroom on, Courtney strummed an acoustic version of "Every Day Should Be A Holiday", featuring a pretty fine singalong by we crowdspeople that put quite a smile on the face of Mr. Taylor-Taylor. Their 21-song salute of a set ended with "Country Leaver", which, if they had to stop playing, was a good way to go out. Sure, I would have loved to hear "Godless", or "Be-In", or "Hard-On For Jesus", but I can't fault what was played. Maybe next time they'll play for three hours instead of two...now there's an idea.

You would think that two brilliant sets by two incomparable bands would have been enough to call it a dandy of a night, but no, it somehow got better. Drinking next door at Mex well after the show ended, another treat was in store. Imagine, friends, an impromptu performance with sassy lass Zia on vocals (and shimmying), Courtney on drums, and Ralphie (host of the evening at Mex) on guitar. It was all rather silly, even before Brent took over guitar duties and a belligerently large man had to be dragged off the tiny stage by several Mex folks. But then, randomly, came Dick Valentine, of Electric Six fame. Don't ask me how, don't ask me why, but the cover of Def Leppard's "Hysteria" that this misfit band cooked up was fantastic. Driving home I asked myself if all that actually happened, and smiled when I could answer myself that yes, indeed it did. It was the only appropriate way to end the night, really.

The Dandy Warhols + Hopewell = guaranteed good goddam time. End of story.

mp3: Calcutta (Hopewell from Birds Of Appetite)

mp3: Genius (The Dandy Warhols from ...Rule OK)

1 comment:

xneverwherex said...

awesome review! so sad I missed this show sounds like a good one. Really bummed in not hearing 'Kim Deal', but we did get 'Be-In' and 'Lou Weed' at the Brooklyn show which was all kinds of awesome.

Next time Im really hoping they bring back their 3 hour shows. And EDSBAH is really a great acoustic/sing-along.