Dawes surpasses expectations with passionate vocals, guitar riffs

I had never listened to Dawes before this weekend. Leading up to their performance at Pygmalion Music Festival, I decided to jump on Spotify and listen to the Los Angeles-based band. After listening, I didn’t really have strong feelings about the band one way or the other. That changed Friday night, when Dawes’ passionate singing and intense guitar riffs made their performance in downtown Urbana my favorite of Pygmalion.

The crowd at the four-man band’s show, like its music, was multi-generational. The band sounded like a mixture of tunes from the 1970s, 1990s and 2000s, and the audience represented a wide variety of age groups. The crowd was older than any of the other audiences at the performances I saw at Pygmalion over the weekend, though the band is relatively new (it was founded in 2009 in Los Angeles).

Dawes held the attention of everyone in the crowd, which kept on growing — both in size and energy — throughout the show. Many people danced and swayed to the music, and most sang out loud to the lyrics. The band is often compared to Crosby, Stills and Nash, as well as Neil Young, and the lyrics hit home in a similar fashion, though the sound has clearly been updated since the heyday of the other bands.

Frontman Taylor Goldsmith passionately led the band with his singing and casually engaged the audience in conversation between songs. During one interchange, he said the band has a lot of songs about a lot of different subjects, but “Fire Away,” the next tune on the setlist, is about the relationship between best friends. He then gave one of the single best performances of the festival.

Griffin, the band’s drummer and Taylor’s brother, bore a resemblance to Carrot Top and passionately pounded away on the drums, providing energy for both the band and the audience.

The crowd seemed genuinely disheartened when the performance was over and had a coming down period after the break. Some audience members even left early after a slow start by Kurt Vile and the Violators.

Johnathan is a junior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]