Dawes at Varsity Theater, 12/31/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Mark N. Kartarik

Dawes with Field Report
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday night in Minneapolis was freezing, but California band Dawes loved the city enough to spend the biggest party night here anyhow. It was the second of two nights at the venue. Minneapolis fans sure were grateful for it, and the band was grateful to be there. As lead singer Taylor Goldsmith put it, "This isn't some regular show. We're spending New Year's Eve together."

Dawes have played larger venues than the Varsity in town, but the place was the perfect fit for the intimacy of such a spirited show. The band drew laughs walking onstage to Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It," and balanced the night between grandiose and hushed moments from the beginning of their set.

It's hard to take your eyes off lead singer Taylor Goldsmith, who has a guitar strap that says "Goldsmith" on it -- just in case you forget his last name. His enchanting lyrics charmed with tales that ride catchy melodies on "The Way You Laugh" and "From a Window Seat." The pieces left the crowd in staring, but the band left plenty of time during their signature extended jams for the audience to move around.
Photo by Mark N. Kartarik
The harmonies echo the folk rock of decades past and bring to mind the Eagles, perhaps just not as trite. On "Fire Away," they played up these harmonies even more by jamming out and showing off drummer Griffin Goldsmith's voice by switching lead vocals and closing off with a round in the final chorus. Griffin has a voice to rival his brother Taylor, but with the three-part harmony that included keyboardist Tay Straithairn, it was pretty extraordinary. Often times harmonies can get lost in such a huge sound and show, but the sound was spot on and clear enough to hear all of the subtleties. 

The weight of Dawes's lyrics play heavily into the music, leading to poignant moments. That isn't to dismiss the tightness and dexterity of the music, nor does it deter from it. Their live shows play out much like their recorded material, not perfect, but they dwell in these tiny imperfections to make the show human and reachable. 

As the show leaned towards the end of the evening, Taylor led the countdown to say goodbye to 2013, but before they did, they brought out Mark Noseworthy of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to help out on guitar for a cover of Blind Faith's "Had to Cry Today," a psychedelic piece that felt a bit like Phish.

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