In their 39th season, Austin City Limits brought Los Angeles band Dawes in for a taping this past Sunday night. Dawes is the kind of band that can easily be looked over, merely because people try to put them in that generic folk/indie rock band mold with bands like Mumford & Sons. But that is far from what they are. Lead singer/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith has no fear in laying it on thick when he belts out his heart-rending lyrics.
Dawes took advantage of the intimate setting of the ACL taping and jumped right into the music as they took the stage. No words were necessary; just music. The band began their 10-song set with “From a Window Seat,” a catchy track from their most recent release Stories Don’t End. It was the perfect song to catch the attention of the audience, especially those not as familiar with the band’s music. From the get-go, it was obvious that the band comes to life when performing live, in a way that can’t be shown through a record. “Most People” always stands out to me because Goldsmith takes the perspective of a female in the song’s story. Also, the hum of Tay Strathairn’s organ is a highlight during this track.
Around the crowd, there were definitely some people who could have easily been some of Dawes’ biggest fans. A man in the front row could barely keep himself seated as Goldsmith got down with his guitar solos. During the anthem-like track “When My Times Comes,” the band stopped playing and singing and let the crowd take over, which made the energy in the room outstanding. The band closed out the taping with a song that most fans will say is a personal favorite. “A Little Bit of Everything” is most definitely a tear-jerker, especially with Strathairn’s beautiful piano work throughout the ballad.
Much to the audience’s dismay, the band exited but came back for just one more. Dawes closed out with an impressive performance of “From the Right Angle,” a new song off of Stories Don’t End. Even bassist Wylie Gelber picked up the pace and moved around more than he had the entire set. The audience all got to their feet and applauded as the band wrapped up what was really the last song of the night.
I’ve read before that Goldsmith has always referred to Dawes as “just a modern band.” But I think what sets them apart from the rest is their ability to just look like four friends who love to play and sing with one another, and they do it well. Dawes got intimate with the crowd at their ACL taping and it was just right. There was really only one way to describe the night, and it was plain “Dawesome,” a term coined by a friend after the show.
Don’t miss out when Dawes comes back to Austin this October for both weekends of Austin City Limits Festival.
*Live photos by Scott Newton courtesy of KLRU.