Last updated on May 15, 2019
The literate story-songs of Dawes were high on my list to see at SXSW, so I took my chance to see them kick it at HGTV/Paste stage. Lead singer Taylor Goldsmith kicked off the set by noting that they did not have all of their gear with them because of the multiple shows they had to play during the day, so I braced myself for a song or two that I would otherwise expect to go missing. (And it was “When My Time Comes”! Tragedy!) But other than that disclaimer, the band threw down their conversational, easy-going sound with panache and little adieu.
Listening to Dawes is like standing next to Goldsmith and having a conversation: the well-delivered lyrics are intended to be heard, and the songwriting doesn’t get in the way of the dry yet emotive delivery to the punchlines. The songs can easily be sung along to, and the sound will just wash over and around you as you do so. The band closed with “A Little Bit of Everything,” which has some of my favorite lines in all of songwriting in the first and third verses. It was an excellent set, with the band hitting on all cylinders. If you’re a fan of country-rock, folky lyrics, or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, you’ll be all up in Dawes. A highlight of SXSW so far.
Later in the evening, I accidentally ended up in a set by The Black Angels. They made their brand of rock look easy: the incredible heaviness, the starts and stops, the roaring vocals, and the instantaneous jumps from quiet to loud all seemed to be effortless. It was a blast, and if you’re into rock you probably already know about The Black Angels. If you haven’t, though…