Last week, Dawes played an incredible show at The Beacon Theatre in New York City. This was their second time performing at the iconic venue. Since forming in 2009, Dawes has come a long way, molding and shifting their style many times. The characteristic that threads their different styles together is their simple yet profound lyrics and the emotionality of every song. Throughout their catalog, they have explored everything from folk and roots rock to American soul and orchestral pop-rock. Their sixth and latest studio album, Passwords, came out last year. This show was part of the tour to accompany the release of that LP.
Dawes did not have an opening act for their show, nor do they have one for any performance on this tour. Instead, they play for about an hour, take a 15-minute breather, and return for another hour and change (technically, they play a 75-minute encore each night!). They kicked off the show with the first song off of Passwords, “Living in the Future,” a rocking song with a great combination of vintage and contemporary sounds that boasts an odd time signature. They closed the first set with one of their most popular songs, “Little Bit of Everything” a song with a great narrative structure.
Taylor Goldsmith, armed with only an acoustic guitar, opened up the second the set. He played a new, unreleased song called “Between the Zero and the One.” Despite having heard it only once, I believe it is among their best work. It encapsulates Goldsmith’s ability to not only put the thoughts of the people into words but to sing them with a melody that says speaks for itself. Soon enough, the full band returned and they ran through more of their songs with vigor and passion, as always. During this set, the members of the band— bar bassist Wylie Gelber— got to showcase their remarkable technique, poise, and feel. Trevor Menear’s solo on “The Right Angle” was so great that it alone convinced Taylor Goldsmith that this was the best concert they’d played at the Beacon. Taylor himself took several incredibly phrased solos, most notably on “Fire Away” and “Most People.” Lee Pardini, a pianist who has worked with Vulfpeck in the past, demonstrated his ability on the keyboard while drummer Griffin Goldsmith exhibited that drums can be just as tasteful as any other instrument.
They played an equal number of songs from each album, and the crowd cheered just as loud for each one; it was a very special night. Without a doubt, this was the best concert I’ve ever been to, with Phoenix previously holding that title. Dawes is certainly one of the best live acts around today, having a catalog of both quality and depth, and being an extremely tight band who can truly connect to what they’re playing and allow the crowd to do the same.