Dawes at Royale

On Further Review
by Julie Stoller

Dawes at Royale
Boston, MA - 11/6/10

w/ Vetiver & Peter Wolf Crier

Leave it to a band like Dawes - They turned a large New York-style club like the Royale into a cozy and warm loving embrace. That they brought two such musically complimentary bands with them - Peter Wolf Crier and Vetiver - added to the personal, intimate feel of the evening. Good times. All that was missing, I suppose, were candles and a roaring fireplace.

My second time seeing Dawes live... these guys are really getting under my skin. The spiritual quality of their music is further enhanced by Taylor Goldsmith's poetic lyrics and those delicious 3 and 4-part harmonies. Plus something I didn't fully notice the first time around - he really pulls out some serious, and at times psychedelic, guitar licks (my friend, a new Dawes convert, thought his playing style was similar to David Gilmour).

There had been mention of some time spent in the studio during a touring break in September, and sure enough, we were treated to three new songs which, by the sound of it, portend great things for the new album, due out next Spring. Dawes' songs are the kind which make one smile and shed tears at the same time.

"If I wanted someone to clean me up, I'd find myself a maid
If I wanted someone to spend my money, I wouldn't need to get paid
If I wanted someone to understand me, I'd have so much more to say
I want you to make the days move easy."
- "If I Wanted Someone"

Sprinkled amongst crowd singalongs (and that would be every song they played from their exquisite debut "North Hills"), were this and two other new treats - "Fire Away," performed in an exuberant manner, in response to an audience member who requested (joking, I'm sure) that they "get rowdy"; and another sweetly comical and deeply touching song, "A Little Bit Of Everything." This one is especially phenomenal, highlighting Taylor's elegant way with words.

"An older man stands in a buffet line
he is smiling and he's holding out his plate
and the further he looks back into his timeline
that hard road always had led him to today.
Making up for when his bright future had left him
making up for the fact that his only son is gone
and letting everything out once his server asks him
'have you figured out yet what it is you want?'
I want a little bit of everything
the biscuits and the beans
whatever helps me to forget about the things
that brought me to my knees
so pile on those mashed potatoes
and an extra chicken wing
I'm having a little bit of everything."
- "A Little Bit Of Everything"

Also performed, to my great delight, was a song they don't always play, "Time Spent In Los Angeles," which knocked me sideways when I first heard it as a new song they'd just written, at their Great Scott show back in February.

"When people ask me where I come from
To see what that says about a man
I only end up giving bad directions
That never lead them there at all

It's something written in the headlights
It's something swimming in my drink
And if I were the moon
It'd be exactly where I'd fall

Cause you got that special kind of sadness
You got that tragic set of charms
That only comes from time spent in Los Angeles
Makes me wanna wrap you in my arms."
- "Time Spent In Los Angeles"

Dawes has a way of being sentimental and heartwarming, creating a communal bond with their audience without being overblown or at all sappy. A neat trick.

They ended with their classic closer, the beautiful audience-enhanced choral of "I've Got A Feeling (It's Gonna Be Alright)", and Taylor's happy pronouncement, "We'll be back to Boston sooner than you think." Definitely be on the lookout for that new album next year!

My Girl To Me / When You Call My Name / If I Wanted Someone (new song*) / That Western Skyline / How Far We've Come / Love Is All I Am / Time Spent In Los Angeles / Bedside Manner / Fire Away (new song*) / Peace In The Valley / When My Time Comes / (encore) / A Little Bit Of Everything (new song*) / I've Got A Feeling (It's Gonna Be Alright)

Peter Wolf Crier.
Wow, what a huge psychedelic onslaught for two guys! Peter Pisano on vocals, guitar and a myriad of pedals, creating some serious guitar magic; and Brian Moen on quite majestic percussion - at times rambunctious, at other times inventive, tasteful flourishes. Pisano sings in this "pleading falsetto" which carries an air of desperation, occasionally opening up into full-on wailing, which, when combined with the crashing drums and guitar frenzy, took us all off to someplace special. Plagued by the usual "opening band, early show time curse," the audience wasn't yet to full strength, but those there clearly enjoyed what they heard. Alex and Taylor from Dawes made cameo appearances on a few songs, for some piano accompaniment and impressive dual guitar dueling. They ended with a crazed, psychedelic rendition of Nick Drake's "Place To Be," startlingly different from the original... and wonderful. They're off now for some dates in the U.K.

Vetiver greatly impressed with their warm and dreamy, rootsy indie-folk. Andy Cabic's soothing vocals and acoustic guitar (with welcome touches of harmonica) interwoven with some truly stunning lead guitar riffs from Daniel Hindman and sweet harmonies came across surprisingly well in the cavernous room. I had some doubts about folk bands in such a setting (in particular Dawes, whose lyrics I was very interested in actually hearing) but the sound quality and volume level were just right, and the vocals nice and clear. Vetiver plays beautifully together, gliding in and out of country and blues-laced melodies with subtle flourishes, slowly expanding into some nice jamming. The set was a mix of old and new; Cabic mentioned that they would soon be headed into the studio, and they shared a few of the new songs with us (such as "Heartbreak"), which sounded very promising. They finished their set with "Wishing Well," a charming country-flavored song with pleasant harmonies, from their Record Store Day single.


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