Sometimes all you need is simply the instruments and the people playing them. Los Angeles indie rock band Dawes took the stage at the Taft Theatre Saturday, in support of their new album Passwords. There was nothing flashy about this performance which made it even that better.
Since their debut in 2009 with North Hills Dawes has always drawn from the past with sounds that echo of the Band, the Eagles, and 70’s rock bands alike. That’s exactly what they brought to the Taft Saturday, the performance was incredibly intimate and front man Taylor Goldsmith carried himself the way a rock star does, personable and animated.
The show began at 8 p.m. with no opener which I appreciated, frankly that means the band is going to play a lot and is confident that they can do it. It was surprising when they finish a very strong first set with their new single “Feed the Fire,” and “A Little Bit of Everything,” and told the crowd, “We’re just getting warmed up.”
Normally, to have two full sets of a band you’ll have go see a jam band or Rush, but Dawes pulled no punches playing all their hits and some fan favorites for a very fluent 23 song set.
After the first set filled with a few big hits like “Things Happen,” Goldsmith and company came out with an even stronger second set. Goldsmith along with keyboardist Lee Pardini began with a sit down 3-song acoustic set after each song adding members of the band. With even drummer and brother of Taylor, Griffin Goldsmith singing a cover of Blake Mills’ “Hey Lover.”
You could see why Dawes is able to have such strong harmonies in all of their songs, the Goldsmith brothers know each others voices so well. The acoustic set even ended with Taylor teasing the crowd with a Velvet Underground classic “Sweet Jane.”
After they put down the acoustics and the tambourines, they plugged in and began with their best performance of the night with “Somewhere Along the Way.” The song known for showcasing their ability to harmonize was on, along with a bunch of guitar solos from Taylor Goldsmith, Dawes put on a much stronger second set.
The highlight of the show came of course when the band played their hit, “When My Time Comes.” The crowd at a Dawes show is very similar to one that would be at a Wilco show, dedicated and mainly in their 30’s and 40’s. So needless to say the crowd was excited and knew most of the set list but when Goldsmith did the classic, “turn the mic to the audience” the crowd at the Taft erupted in a mass chorus of “When My Time Comes.”
It solidified an evening with a band that really did seem like they cared about their fans and wanted to give them a good performance. This will not be the last time Dawes plays Cincinnati that much is certain.