Meredith Westin and I arrived at the Varsity Theater for the first of two sold-out Dawes shows and got a spot in front to check out the opening act Red Daughters. Meredith had already told me, “You’ll like them, they’re cute.” They were super energetic and what I noted as “totes hair-flippy.” Most of these boys had long free-flowing blonde hair and were not afraid to shake it. They were quite enjoyable to watch and I liked their a-little-bit-yelly-a-little-bit-rock-and-roll sound.
Caroline Smith and her band, the Goodnight Sleeps, took the stage next and unlike the Daughters, she kept her ponytail intact but was adorably bouncy and sweet. Caroline Smith’s unique and sort of twangy voice is one I could listen to forever. She puts on quite a show, interacting with her fans and telling us “Guys, I’m having a blast right now” before asking her band and then the crowd if they are too. She ends every song with an emphatic, “Thank you!” Everyone giggled when after finishing a song she said “I’m such a girl sometimes, but did you hear me burp during that last song? I tried to cover it up.” She had the Minnesotan crowd bouncing and bobbing and singing along through the entire set.
Before Dawes took the stage, their super-fans pushed forward to try to secure the perfect spot. The people around us were mostly ones who had seen them play before and were very, very into them. Meredith and I were sure a fight was going to break out amongst the people nearest us.
My first thought whenever I see Dawes play is, Wow, cute. Front man Taylor Goldsmith smiles at the crowd while he plays, in a way that could make anyone fall in love with the band (or him), and I heard, “He just looked at me” from someone in the crowd at least once. They started out with “Fire Away” and the guy next to me sang along loudly, adding his own not-so-melodic soundtrack to the first few songs. There was a couple jumping up and down shaking their fists, knocking into other people who then looked like they wanted to fight them. Someone got spilled on at one point, which I assumed was due to the group of too-young-to-be-drunk-but-drunk-anyway kids swaying a little too emphatically. After I saw a woman reply to a text that said “pretty awesome cept for all the hipsters…” I decided that I, too, could make the show more awesome and moved to join Meredith from the other side of the stage. People were quieter, calmer, and more often swaying slowly to the music than jumping around and yelling, “Woo.”
“Peace in the Valley” included a very lively musical interlude where Taylor Goldsmith jumped around and danced, making the goofiest faces which are somehow incredibly charming. The bassist, Wylie Gelber, moves his head back and forth and occasionally looks at the ceiling with a face like something profound just came to mind. The drummer, Taylor’s brother Griffin Goldsmith, has the best faces of them all. He opens and closes his mouth with such force and even makes a face I’d call a snarl when he isn’t singing with enthusiasm. Every time I see this band I can’t get enough of their faces.
They sang “When My Time Comes” and Taylor had the crowd sing the chorus at one point. When they played their last song, the cheers were ebullient and they returned for a two-song encore of “If You Let Me Be Your Anchor“ and “How Far We’ve Come.”
Dawes mentioned how Minneapolis is a special place for them and it’s clear that they are a special band for Minneapolis. They put on an amazing show and it’s no wonder they can sell out two nights in a row. Together with the two openers, the show could not have been better and it isn’t surprising how many cheers erupted when they asked, “Who will be here tomorrow night, too?”
“Coming Back to a Man”
“Jealous Guy (John Lennon)”
“The Way You Laugh”
“If I Wanted Someone”
“That Western Skyline”
“Albuquerque (Neil Young)”
“When My Time Comes”
“Peace in the Valley”
“A Little Bit of Everything”
“Time Spent in Las Angeles”
“If You Let Me Be Your Anchor”
“How Far We’ve Come”