Dawes at First Avenue, 11/4/11

First Avenue
Minneapolis, MN

November 4, 2011
Friday night at First Avenue saw the much-anticipated (and very sold out) Dawes show, which was received, as one might expect, by a zealously dedicated crowd of fans. So dedicated, in fact, that it's strange to recall that the concert was actually a double-headline, which Dawes shared with fellow indie rockers Blitzen Trapper.

The fan following in Minneapolis is so heavily skewed on the side of Dawes that Blitzen Trapper's chilled-out set, though well executed, thoughtful, and well done, was absorbed by scattered sections of the audience. Some Blitzen Trapper fans turned out for them, but the night obviously belonged to Dawes. And rightly so--Minneapolis has been a frequent and favorite stop for Dawes in the last few tours, with the venue and the audiences getting larger every time.

"Our tours are all starting to feel like the road to Minneapolis," said Dawes' lead singer Taylor Goldsmith after a few songs. Indeed, even if the bulk of Dawes' creative catalog rests on life in California and that sturdy, lonesome Laurel Canyon sound, there's a special place for the band here--owed partly to 89.3 the Current ("The best radio station in the country," announced Goldsmith halfway through the night, to appreciative cheers), but also partly to the fact that Minneapolis has a bursting and hungry roots music scene.

Dawes at First Avenue, 11/4/11
Photo By Stacy Schwartz
Dawes at First Avenue, 11/4/11
Photo By Stacy Schwartz

Dawes may be touted nationally as the fresh face of California folk rock, but their success and connection to their fans transcends geography. Goldsmith is a talented songwriter, balancing his storied lyrics on steady legs of tried-and-true melodies, garnering comparisons to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and a host of other classic folk musicians.

Beyond that, Dawes has gained a reputation for their earnest and enthusiastic performances; at First Ave on Friday, the band certainly didn't hold back on anything. The night started out with tracks "The Way You Laugh" and "If I Wanted Someone" off the second album, Nothing Is Wrong, and got louder when Dawes introduced the heavy-hitting songs from their first album, like "That Western Skyline". The crowd knew the lyrics, all right, knew them for every song, but as I looked out at the mass of faces, I noticed that they weren't just singing along--they were belting it out, just as impassioned by the songs as the band onstage.

Dawes at First Avenue, 11/4/11
Photo By Stacy Schwartz
Dawes at First Avenue, 11/4/11
Photo By Stacy Schwartz

Every indulgence of the band was appreciated: the electric organ element that made "Peace in the Valley" feel like a choral hymn, the jammy guitar solos, special guest Johnny Corndawg covering "Kochadrome", and that beautiful moment where Goldsmith and younger brother Griffin Goldsmith (the drummer) sang "Peace In The Valley" at a shared microphone for the first encore. It was all there, and for the fans that continued their Dawes-filled evening at the 7th St. Entry for the afterparty with Johnny Corndawg, the night only got better.

Critic's bias: Dawes is one of my favorite bands. I do not miss a Dawes show. Ever.
The crowd: Packed and happy.
Overheard in the crowd: Lots of girls screaming "TAYLORRRRR!" (I mean, sure, yes, he's cute I guess, but I'm convinced it's more the combination of hair and smooth voice singing about heartbreak. Classic.)
Random notebook dump: Did anyone notice the Dawes star that was added to the First Ave wall? Here.

For More Photos: See our full slideshow by Stacy Schwartz.

The Way You Laugh
If I Wanted Someone
When You Call My Name
That Western Skyline
Coming Back to a Man
How Far We've Come
So Well
Peace in the Valley
My Way Back Home
Little Bit of Everything
Million Dollar Bill
Time Spent in Los Angeles
Take Me Out of the City
My Girl to Me
Fire Away

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