Dawes treated a full house at the Lincoln Theatre to an evening of pure rock ’n’ roll magic recently. Their muscular grooves and tender lyrics echoed vestiges of the great Americana and folk-rock tradition, bringing to mind Crosby, Stills, and Nash, The Band, and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.
As Dawes jammed out, traces of the Grateful Dead colored their sonic palette. When bassist Wylie Gelber crossed his ankles and almost leaned into his monitor, his lithe frame and wide shoulders resembled the figure of the Dead’s Phil Lesh.
This was most definitely a rock show, and quite a heavy one at times, but it focused just as much on Taylor Goldsmith’s songwriting. While the band played loud, they never got in the way of Taylor’s vocals. Taylor has excellent phrasing, and the sound tech did a great job of calibrating the levels to make everything came off right.
On Aug. 6, the ambience of the Lincoln Theatre lent a stateliness and dignity to the Taylor’s lyrics. IMP understands what they have in the historic venue, and they know how to book it. They bring in critically acclaimed artists, and I’ve enjoyed every show I’ve seen there. It’s not by accident that it’s hosted some of my favorite shows.
Dawes came out hot, opening with “Feed the Fire,” and rolling right along into “I Can’t Think About It Now.” After “One of Us,” frontman Taylor said, “That felt good. I needed to do that.” He explained: When Dawes played the Lincoln in 2017, they opened with that same song, and his voice just didn’t have it that night.
The first set was all about rocking the house. Dawes played hard, and they had the audience dancing and blissed out for most of it. They played just as intensely, but less heavy, in the second set. At the beginning, Taylor came out alone with his acoustic guitar and played “St. Augustine at Night.” He described “Time Flies Either Way” as a play on the old chestnut that time flies when you’re having fun. Midway through “Coming Back to a Man,” he switched to electric guitar and the rest of the band joined him.
“Crack the Case,” Taylor told the audience, “is the closest thing we have to a political song, but it’s really about how to talk to each other.” Dawes closed their set with “When My Time Comes” and received a standing ovation as they left the stage. The crowd remained on their feet until Dawes returned to the stage to play their signature tune, “All Your Bands.” The audience sang along with the refrain, “May all your favorite bands stay together.”
Stream Passwords, the latest studio album by Dawes, on Spotify:
Throughout the concert, the audience rose several times. They frequently sang along, and it was obvious that everyone was having a great time. Dawes sounded terrific, and they showed that they’re one of the best young bands in folk-rock and Americana.
Here are some pictures of Dawes performing at the Lincoln Theatre on Aug. 6, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.