Dawes is a California band that sounds of another era in more ways than one. Its music is steeped in the 1970s and the environment that produced the sounds of Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, the Eagles, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Rather than writing pop nuggets and hoping they stick to the Top 40 charts, Dawes generates a sound, a vibe that resonates as a whole, as a sum of the sounds and subtle moods it renders in each song.
Those who showed up made the best of a perfect late-summer night and the wealth of space in the place and gave the headliner a sustained, warm welcome. It responded enthusiastically to “How Far We’ve Come” and “When My Time Comes,” and it swayed gently to hymns like “Time Spent in Los Angeles” and “A Little Bit of Everything.”
Dawes is a quartet led by brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith. Taylor has a voice that can sound like Jackson Browne in his “Late for the Sky” days. The band itself evokes those days, back when the Eagles were getting huge and Browne and Zevon and Linda Ronstadt were cutting albums with session aces such as Waddy Wachtel and David Lindley. On “Million Dollar Bill,” they sounded a lot like the Band. (Dawes has backed Robbie Robertson live). They also generate similarities to the Avett Brothers.
The charms of Dawes’ songs are subtle. Few are immediately arresting; rather they tend to open themselves to an embrace. But all the elements of classic songwriting are there: melodies, harmonies and thoughtful lyrics. The show lasted about 100 minutes and the set list drew most of its tracks from “Nothing Is Wrong,” the second of the band’s two studio albums. The sound was crisp all night, but the volume felt high, due in part, perhaps, to the lack of bodies in the place. This show could have been moved to a few clubs in town, but thankfully it wasn’t. The idyllic weather complemented the music perfectly.
The highlights were the songs mentioned above, plus “Something in Common,” “That Western Skyline” and “If I Wanted Someone,” which sounded like a fusion of Browne and the Eagles. But really the entire set felt like one piece, a recital, an excursion back to a time when the music mattered first and was appreciated for it.
Quiet Corral: The openers are a six-piece Lawrence band whose sound gelled nicely with the headliner's. They generated plenty ofappealing electric folk/pop reverie, the kind associated with bands like the Lumineers and Mumford and Sons, but with an engaging twist or two. Highly recommended, if that's your thing.
| Timothy Finn, The Star