Dawes were mighty impressive opening up for Brett Dennen at Higher Ground, so much so that the headliner must’ve been more than a little intimidated at the prospect of following them on stage.
The LA quartet had just about won over the near capacity crowd by the end of their 45 minute set, slowly but surely gaining more of the crowd’s attention with each successive song, so that they were rewarded with genuinely heartfelt applause by the time they finished “How Far We’ve Come” off the soon to be released second album Nothing Is Wrong.
There’s an inherent drama in the music of Dawes, in songs such as “If I Wanted Someone” and “Little Bit of Everything,” that gives ballast to more accessible material like the infectious “Coming Back to A Man.” But even in the catchy likes of the latter, there’s a world-weariness that belies the band’s comparative youth and there’s more than one stroke of ironic genius within a song like “Peace In the Valley;” Taylor Goldsmith’s memorable verbal turns of phrase were echoed in the slightly theatrical stage presence when he played on of his staccato guitar solos, especially near the end of their performance.
The sound of Dawes was especially clear throughout their set, tribute as much to the lean likes of their instrumental lineup—single guitar, piano and organ from Tay Strathairn, bass by the taciturn Wylie Gelber, and drums from Griffin Goldsmith (who also sings harmony and an occasional lead) —as the house mix. And while frontman Goldsmith was charming and self-effacing in his between song patter, particularly his reference to a sound dropout that left his first guitar break virtually inaudible, his deep immersion in his performance, like those of his bandmates, spoke volumes of precocious experience.
May 26th recalled the Sunday night in 2005 When My Morning Jacket played before a smaller crowd than Dawes did, making much the same impression with those present: witnessing a band coming of age before their eyes and ears, giving a true glimpse of how they will capture much larger audiences in the not-too-distant future.