Dawes has found a comfortable home in New York City’s Central Park, returning to SummerStage for the third time this past Monday. The energy of the evening seemed to evolve in sync with the performances, as singer-songwriter Andy Shauf began with relaxed acoustic folk tunes which played well with a crowd just beginning to recover from a long day of heat exhaustion. As the night progressed the temperature slowly dropped, creating a more welcoming environment for the joyous dancing that accompanies any First Aid Kit performance.
First Aid Kit’s Johanna and Klara led the crowd through their beautifully woven harmonies and heartwarming ballads while surprising and exciting everyone with covers of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”. In a fun bit of 6 degrees of separation, Taylor Goldsmith (of Dawes) joined First Aid Kit’s Johanna and Klara on their song, “King of the World”, which had been recorded with Dawes’ previous tour and SummerStage mate, Connor Oberst.
Dawes stormed the stage with the setting sun, breathing their special brand of classic California rock into the crowd’s collective lungs with the sonorous shrug “Things Happen”. With the roaring addition of Duane Betts (son of Dickie Betts of the Allman Brothers Band) to the live lineup, Dawes’ guitars have never sounded so perfectly fluid and full. The band continued bouncing (literally, Taylor joyously hops along the stage like Steven Stills on a pogo stick) through “Right On Time” before slowing down a touch for the beautifully wistful harmonies of “Somewhere Along The Way”. After talking briefly about the honor of playing Newport Folk Festival 50 years DE (post-Dylan Electric) Taylor broke the chain of new tracks as they ramped the energy back up for fan-favorite “Time Spent in Los Angeles”, with the now cooler air filled with the unified vocal cries of the crowd.
The band soloed and jammed through nearly every song, their musical connection and talent incredibly evident. After covering the Water Boys’ “Fisherman’s Blues”, they smoothly transitioned without pause into “I Can’t Think About It Now” filled with soulful strumming which evoked one older gentleman next to me to exclaim its familiarity with Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing”. Taylor gave his brother Griffin the spotlight for a while during “Most People”, the raw emotion of his empowered drumming reverberating through the park before rejoining the crowd-powered chorus. They kept the classics coming with “A Little Bit of Everything” and “When My Time Comes”, each feverishly supported by a bellowing audience.
Taylor had earlier mentioned the strict 10pm curfew, and as a result the band blew past any encore, buying them time for an extra song past even their initial plan, fitting in “From A Window Seat” before dedicating their final song, “All Your Favorite Bands” to “every single one of you guys who support us, and our friends Andy Shauf and First Aid Kit”. The evening came to a close after a cathartic congregational cry of the chorus:
I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be
I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever
I hope the world sees the same person that you always were to me
And may all your favorite bands stay together
With Dawes’ latest album and band addition, they sound more vibrant and expressive as ever. As one of my favorite bands, I really hope they stay together.
– Jordan Grobe