At the risk of sounding like a codger, the experience of going to see a concert live and in the flesh has diminished over the last few years, a time during which smart phones and digital cameras have become ubiquitous. Sure, audiences have always been easy to distract mid-concert—be that for beer, conversation, what-have-you—but over the last five years or so, the live concert experience has suffered because many members of the audience are too busy either taking crappy digital pictures or tweeting about the show instead of enjoying the vibes, mannnn.
I bring this up because at last night’s Dawes/Blitzen Trapper show at New York City’s Webster Hall, there were a surprising few number of people who experienced the show through a 4-inch handheld screen because they were, *gasp*, actually present in the moment! This kind of warm attentiveness is something that bands tend to react really positively to, and four gents of Dawes were no exception: Their rollicking, 90-minute(ish) set of “classic indie” songs went over like gangbusters with the demographically diverse audience last night, one that was a pleasant mix of hipsters in tight fitting plaid shirts, recently-graduated-yet-quickly-aging frat stars, bearded bros looking to kill time before next year’s Bonnaroo, and Lefsetz-reading Boomers.
Each of the You Oughta Know artist’s two LPs, 2009′s North Hills and 2011′s Nothing Is Wrong, have a timeless feel to them, like they could have just as easy been recorded during the 1970s heyday of the Laurel Canyon scene as they would today. Live, however, the music of Dawes takes on a little more urgency. Feeding off the crowd, lead singer/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith ripped an energetic guitar solo during “If I Wanted Someone” that put the LP version to shame, and “When My Time Comes” became a sing-along with the great majority of the show’s 1,400+ attendees belting out that song’s triumphant chorus.
During the band’s three-song encore, Taylor Goldsmith sang a lyric from 2009′s “That Western Skyline” that goes like this: “All my dreams did not come true, they only came apart.” Based on the way that Dawes has taken off over the last year with the fans, their peers and the media, we’re pretty sure that Goldsmith won’t be able to write lines like that any more with a straight face. After seeing the broad smiles on the faces of each of the members of Dawes last night as the soaked in the adoration of the largely smartphone-less crowd last night, it’s readily apparent that their dreams have already begun coming true.
Dawes Setlist: Webster Hall, New York City, October 26, 2011
“The Way You Laugh” / “When You Call My Name” / “How Far We’ve Come” / “So Well” / “Coming Back To A Man” / “If I Wanted Someone” / “Million Dollar Bill” / “Kodachrome” (Paul Simon cover) / “A Little Bit Of Everything” / “When My Time Comes” / “Time Spent In Los Angeles”
Encore: “Take Me Out Of The City” / “That Western Skyline” / “Fire Away”