The Dandy Warhols on the Streets of Portland
It always amazes me how influential a city can be on its music scene. I spent last week in Portland, home to one of my favorite bands, The Dandy Warhols. As I walked around the city, it became clear how the vibe and culture could have contributed to their unique spin on (for the lack of a better term) psychedelic rock.
The number 13 is turning out to be something of a special number for the band. 2013 marks the thirteenth anniversary of their breakthrough album 13 Tales from Urban Bohemia. To celebrate, The Dandies have decided to go on tour, playing the album in its entirety. To kick things off, they decided to play several songs off the album at different locations around downtown Portland. Fans were tipped off to the location of the songs a few hours ahead of time on Twitter (#13Songsin13Places). With an offhand announcement only a day or two beforehand, it was complete luck that I happened to be in town.
I was able to catch them on their second day of ‘touring’. Walking up to the location of the first song, you could immediately distinguish the other die-hard Dandies fans outside of the vintage clothing store Rays Ragtime. Soon enough, the band appeared, carrying their instruments and battery powered amps. After performing the song ‘Solid’, front man Courtney Taylor-Taylor announced the next song would be two blocks away, at the building where 13 Tales had been recorded. As the mob migrated in that direction, band and audience members alike decided to first stop and eat at one of Portland’s famous food cart pods (Boulder–get some of these).
After their next performance (“Big Indian”) in front of the now empty recording studio, the band announced that the last stop would be at a bar called Slabtown. This was the location used for filming the music video to their most popular song, “Bohemian Like You”. As you can probably guess, this was also the song they chose to play. After an encore with “Boys Better”, they thanked the sizeable group that had followed them throughout downtown Portland (Dandy Warhols fans use Twitter, apparently), and encouraged them to stick around and have a few beers.
Needless to say, it was a pretty memorable experience. Not only were they in perfect form (sounding particularly good for quickly setting up and playing on the loud streets of downtown Portland), but it also offered a look at some of the places that have served as a backdrop to the band’s career and the recording of one of their finest albums.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the video release of 13 Songs in 13 Places (you may be able to spot a Radio 1190 sweatshirt out in the crowd), as well the 13.13.13 tour, which will stop by the Gothic Theatre on June 11th.
Piece and photos by Will Rempel.