Dawes is Just Getting Started

By Carter Shelter, Staff Writer

Back in the tail end of 2015, Dawes brought their brand of road worn folk rock to the Beacon Theatre stage as part of public radio station WFUV’s annual Holiday Cheer concert alongside artists like Brandi Carlile and the late Sharon Jones. “We’ve been waiting to play this place,” frontman Taylor Goldsmith said at the time, before adding “Hopefully we’ll be back for a show of our own sometime soon.” Between then and now, Dawes went through something of a transitional period, with lineup changes and a divisive album, last year’s “We’re All Gonna Die”, marking a sharp change in course that left some fans a little wary. But when Dawes returned to the Beacon for a sold out show, fulfilling their own prophecy, all doubts were cast aside with the band firing on all cylinders.

You could get tell right from the start that this show meant something to these guys, and to Goldsmith in particular, whose usual energetic stage presence was turned up an extra notch. “Hello New York City,” he said during the show opening “One of Us”, and as he stepped away from the microphone and looked up towards the balcony the still-in-disbelief smile on his face said it all. “I want you to really understand: Dawes playing the Beacon isn’t like a dream come true, it’s an exact dream coming true,” he explained later in the evening, and as he bounced around the stage like a child on a trampoline you couldn’t help but feel happy that this was something he got to experience, and that welcoming embrace from the crowd served to further energize the band, which in turn further energized the audience. That feedback loop of excitement continually escalated during the band’s first set until it was as though the crowd was forcibly stood up from their seats at the beginning of “A Little Bit of Everything” a powerful song off 2011’s “Nothing Is Wrong” that continues to rank among the best Goldsmith has written.

While Taylor might have owned the stage that night, Dawes has always been reliant on the musical chemistry between its members, and this might very well be the strongest they’ve ever been. Keyboardist Lee Pardini and guitarist Trevor Menear, both relatively new members to the Dawes family, added exciting new dimensions to songs like “Right On Time”, “Now That It’s Too Late, Maria”, and “Coming Back to a Man” while the world-class rhythm section of bassist Wylie Gelber and Taylor’s brother Griffin on drums remain perfectly understated, never overplaying but always doing much more than you think, with Griffin’s drumming in particular becoming increasingly lyrical.

More than any of that, though, is what they’re all accomplishing together, and Dawes are finally in a place now where they are really having fun with their own songs. The musical ingenuities and extended jams that popped up throughout the show, including show-stoppings renditions of “Less Than Five Miles Away” and “From the Right Angle”, are evidence that Dawes might only be beginning their second act, and that things could get a whole lot more interesting from here. Years of hard work went into this band playing this show, but now it’s times for Dawes to set their eyes on the next prize, whatever that may be.

Email Carter Glace at music@nyunews.com.

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