Sometimes a band sounds exactly how you expect them to. Judging from the You Oughta Know Live set that they recorded in our offices, Dawes is just such a band. Even before they began playing, we watched the quartet try to recall, without Google, with what song Elvis Costello began his infamous Saturday Night Live performance before stopping and launching into “Radio Radio” (for the record, it was “Less Than Zero,” and they succeeded) while re-doing a bit of sound-checking.
Then they launched into their lush (and loud) set, kicking off with “Time Spent in Los Angeles,” the lead track from June’s Nothing Is Wrong. The lyrics reflect on the somewhat exceptional position the city holds in the popular imagination, and how some of its residents engage with that, or refuse to (sample lyric: “When people ask me where I come from/ To see what that says about a man/ I only end up giving bad directions/ That never lead them there at all”). Everything about the performance seemed well-tuned and calibrated—when the vocals fell off the beat, it was just as purposeful and focused as anything else. The whole set is streaming now, so check it out!