Dawes at First Avenue, 7/10/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Erik Hess

with Shovels and Rope and Paul Spring
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Wednesday, July 10, 2013

There's something very Minneapolis about Dawes. Plenty of their songs are about their hometown of Los Angeles, and not one of the four young men in the band look particularly like they could withstand the terrifying January temperatures of our fair city, but for whatever reason, Minneapolis has adopted Dawes as one of its own. They are as beloved here as though they grew up with our thousands of lakes and our tater tot hot dish.

That fact is not lost on Dawes, who took to the stage at First Avenue with broad smiles and festival-sized energy. Wednesday's performance was the second in a two-night stand at the venue, both of which were very sold out.

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Dawes opened the evening with a fiery rendition of "From a Window Seat," the lead single off their third album, Stories Don't End. Many of the subsequent songs were treated with a similar energy -- lead singer Taylor Goldsmith wasn't afraid to let loose and shred on his guitar, and he did so often, just as his bandmates railed on their own instruments. The organ notes that Tay Strathairn carved out in "If I Wanted Someone" only offered the crowd more reason to cheer, and offered a prelude to the hard-rocking "From the Right Angle" that followed.

Photos by Erik Hess

After years of playing to the Twin Cities crowds, Dawes have come to an understanding. This is homebase. As Goldsmith turned the last chorus of "Fire Away" over to the crowd, he chuckled, as though he were only slightly surprised to hear 1,600 people singing his lyrics to him without guidance.

"I'm gonna call a spade a spade here. You're not seeing Bob Dylan or Wilco or My Morning Jacket tonight, so there's some extra pressure on us to make you feel like you made the right choice," announced Goldsmith midway through the evening's set, beaming as he looked out at the happy crowd. "I'm not saying anything against those guys because they're three of the best groups out there -- all I'm trying to say is thank you. This means so much to us."

Some highlights of the night included "That Western Skyline," one of the first Dawes tunes ever released and arguably their most successful -- sometimes it feels as though we've been waiting for them to write a song like that again -- as well as a surprising and thoroughly awesome cover of Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight," sung by Taylor Goldsmith's younger brother, drummer Griffin Goldsmith. With the elder Goldsmith taking a seat at the piano for the first and only time in the evening, the crowd could focus on Griffin's underappreciated vocals -- a little rougher, more unrefined, more naturally twangy than his brother's.

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