Examiner has seen Los Angeles quartet Dawes perform live three times and the band has grown in stature with each performance. The most recent was an Austin City Limits Television (ACL TV) taping at the Moody Theater Sunday evening. Our first encounter with Dawes was a Do512 Lounge Session (video on left). Initially, we thought another alt-country/folk/indie rock band is the last thing music needs. But the band led by brothers Taylor (guitar and vocals) and Griffin Goldsmith (drums and vocals) quickly won us over with exceptional songwriting and skilled musicianship. The band more recently opened for the Avett Brothers at the new Austin 360 Amphitheater. Last night's taping was the most prestigious Austin date Dawes has played. The band acknowledged the fact when Taylor mentioned how big an evening the taping was for the band. He was excited. So are music fans who snapped up copies of their third album, "Stories Don't End" (2013) which peaked at number two on Billboard's Top Tastemakers Albums.
The 10-song set Dawes recorded last night felt brief, ending less than an hour after the band kicked off the show with "Window Seat" from the new album. It was not the first time the group performed the song on television. They played the tune on Jimmy Kimmel Live last May. The act from L.A. suburb, North Hills is well connected in Tinsel town. Producer Jonathan Wilson invited them to informal jam sessions at his home with Connor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Chris Robinson (Black Crowes) and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) where they honed their Laurel Canyon sound (think Crosby, Stills and Nash and Neil Young)
"Time Spent in LA" and "A Little Bit of Everything" from 2011 release, "Nothing is Wrong" were highlights. Both songs have continued to hold up as excellent examples of the Laurel Canyon sound the band emulates. The crowd reaction to those songs was enthusiastic and many fans could be seen singing along. Perhaps the most electric moment came when Taylor turned his mic toward the crowd during "When My Time Comes" from their debut album. The audience answered by loudly singing the chorus. It was a magical point in the show that we look forward to revisiting when the show airs on PBS November 16.
ACL TV producer Leslie Nichols was also impressed with the crowd. She posted this on Twitter: "Nice audience participation, y'all! #acltv #dawes"
Music fans often find themselves searching for the "new sound" constantly looking for an act that redefines genres, creating something different. By definition few bands ever achieve that status. It is reassuring to find that a band like Dawes who latched onto a musical style that has been popular for decades and can play it well enough to make the sound seem fresh and new to the listener. In that context, Dawes is particularly inspiring.
Dawes continues touring at the end of the August in Europe returning stateside mid-September. Austin music fans will have another chance to catch the band at ACL Festival October 6 and 13.
Dawes ACL TV setlist:
If I wanted Someone
When My Time Comes
Time Spent in LA
Just Beneath the Surface
A Little Bit of Everything
From the Right Angle
Special thanks to April Burcham and Leslie Nichols
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