All the gigs of my life: Gig 66 – The Dandy Warhols, Friday, May 23, 2003, Brixton Academy

My first ever gig from the fabulous Dandys, who would go on to become a massive part of my 2003 gigging life.

2003 was a year of many firsts for me in my gigging life. Since moving to London in 1996, I had settled into a routine of seeing mainly my tried and tested faves like the Manics or Suede. But in 2003, many of my gigs were first times for me, and kicking off the season of newness was this stunning show from the Dandy Warhols.

I’d first become interested in the Dandys in 1997. Their single “Every Day Should Be A Holiday” intrigued me with its mix of droning shoegaze-esque guitars, sneaky electronic bleepery and a catchy melody. Plus, they had very pretty chisel-cheekboned singer, and regular Scruffy readers will know just what a draw that was for me in my youth (and, if I’m being honest, still is).

And “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth” impressed me even more with its brazen glam stompiness and brilliantly outrageous video, which cemented my status as a fan and I immediately bought “… The Dandy Warhols Come Down”, their latest album. However, it took me a while to properly get into the Dandy fan world and see them live. I enjoyed their singles from 2000’s “13 Tales From Urban Bohemia”, but it wasn’t until 2003’s “Welcome To The Monkey House” that I really started to take proper notice. And they would becoming one of the defining bands of the year for me: as well as seeing them twice at their own gigs, they were the opening act at five incredible David Bowie gigs I went to as well.

So my whirlwind tour of the Dandys gigging life, with seven shows in one year, started this very night. And it’s clear that it was a good one, from the opening remarks in my diary entry:

God yes! What a GIG.

Before heading out that night, I’d had a quick perusal of the band’s website to find out who the support band would be. ‘But a strange rumour was afoot! That there’d be no support and the Dandys would play a mega-set all by themselves! So you see, I had no choice but to stride out early and glide into “Carling Academy Brixton” (I may weep) just past doors and secure myself a place down the front of Upstairs.

Clearly, this was the first gig I’d gone to in the new era of major venue sponsorship, with my beloved Brixton Academy newly splattered with Carling advertising. I was not impressed with the change to the venue name, and regular visitors to the blog will note that I always use the venue’s true name in my post titles. Carling and O2 may come and go, but the Brixton Academy will live forever.

Dandys rule OK! They came on at 8.30 and immediately plunged us into the fuzzfeedback noise glory of that track off of “Come down” that goes “I am my only only only friend”. Then another quite like it!

Okay, so I didn’t know every single song title or lyric, as my fandom had only really properly ignited with the most recent album. But that mattered little, for they were basically a band made for me to love.

‘They are like two bands in one: the My Bloody Valentine / Ride / Sonic Youth-style feedback barrage vs the glam / trash genius of for example “We Used To Be Friends”, fourish songs in. Which of course makes them kind of PERFECT…

As far as the setlist was concerned, a particular highlight was what I dubbed the ‘Killer Single Twins!‘ where one utterly classic tune was followed immediately by another. ‘In the first half, “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth” followed immediately by an acoustic “Every Day Should Be A Holiday”. Then, in part two, the utter stormingness of “Bohemian Like You”, just for that moment the Greatest Live Song Ever for that “WOOH!” at the end of the chorus, where all the lights in the Academy burst on in their excitement. And then, “Gett Off”: dirty and groovy.

I started the gig quite subdued, and not leaping about and dancing much, ‘quite happily though, just watching.‘ After a little wander during the interval though I felt much refreshed ‘and danced happily to most of the rest, even the slow tunes where I was the only one up and must have looked like I came from Planet Weird‘. Well, if you can’t behave like you come from Planet Weird at a Dandys gig, when can you?

And even though I usually prefer to be in the downstairs throng at gigs, I didn’t mind being on the balcony for this gig. ‘One good point about being Upstairs is that you have much more space to dance about, whilst retaining a good view of the proceedings below. Dizzy thrills.

I’d read online that recent Dandys gigs had been almost 3 hours long, but this night was a mere two hours, ‘ ‘cos singer Courtney had a dodgy throat. According to Zia, the keyboard player, who explained it all to us after the rest of the band had left, and she’d showered us with some mindwarping synth doodles. Then she disappeared with the words “I’m about to piss my pants, but I’ll come back in a minute and sing you a little song.” Which she did, a twee-off-key number about having flowers in her toes. Well why not.’

And despite having been far from the frothing mosh at the gig, I still left it knocked out by the band’s energy and intensity. ‘Oh too knackered, just too knackered.’

I was well and truly in the Dandys fan fold now, and couldn’t wait for my next opportunity to dance on Planet Weird. And luckily for me, I only had six months to wait before that would happen, though I didn’t know it yet. And that would be at one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced: a David Bowie tour.

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