Just Try to Say No

November 8th, 2010

Dawes – Webster Hall – November 5, 2010

Certain things are hard to resist. Someone offers free tickets to the game, a cold beer or Peanut M&M’s, and how can you say no? Dawes, the up-and-comers from L.A., are the same way: You listen to their music with its perfect balance of sing-along lyrics and air-guitar-able Laurel Canyon rock and how can you resist? So it should come as no surprise that this same band had the Webster Hall crowd eating it up on Friday night.

They’re on one of those wouldn’t-believe-it-if-I-wasn’t-seeing-it upswings right now, hopping from obscurity with a bad haircut to a crowded NYC club in the time it takes to finish that beer someone just handed you, making everything frontman Taylor Goldsmith, said—like “been a really good year for us” or “all we’re going to do is make sure you have fun”—seem like a major understatement. Goldsmith and Co. (including brother Griffin on the drums) led the way through a concise hour-plus of music present and future, keeping the audience buoyant with the songs they know and love while preparing them for new ones like “My Way Back Home,” “Fire Away” and the encore, “A Little Bit of Everything,” recently recorded for their second album.

Feeding off the pretzel-knot bass of Wylie Gelber, every song flowed with positive energy to match Taylor Goldsmith’s manic twinkle in his eye and sidestepping back and forth across the stage. Perhaps not every song had a chorus imbued with oohs or ohs, but Dawes made it tough to care either way when the songs were sung so earnestly and passionately. The set seemed a perfect journey toward one moment, the set-closing “When My Time Comes.” Once the band hit the chorus and the house lights illuminated a roomful of smiling faces ready to belt out the words, the audience did not disappoint. How could they resist? —A. Stein