Posted Jul 22nd, 2015 (10:00 am) by Theresa Flanagan
Image by Theresa Flanagan

Since the last time we saw Dawes, they have released their fourth album, All Your Favorite Bands, and added a new member to their touring lineup. We caught them at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT along with "California Country" singer Sam Outlaw. He's quick to tell you that yes, "Outlaw" really is a family name. His mother's maiden name, to be precise. Like Dawes, Outlaw is based in Los Angeles, inspiring the title of his recently released debut Angeleno. Straight up country isn't really our jam but Outlaw and his crew put on a good show, full of self-deprecating banter.

So, how about Dawes? Well, All Your Favorite Bands came out just last month but half the audience already knew all the words to the new songs. They kicked their set off with a slew of new tracks, starting with album opener "Things Happen." We'll admit it - the new album hasn't quite grown on us yet, but it may just be a bias of familiarity. Hearing some of it live definitely didn't hurt, but we were still glad when the second half of the set was dominated by old favorites. Which now include the tracks off of Stories Don't End. We've made this point before, but if the album itself was a little too precise, the songs off of it still play incredibly well live. Taylor Goldsmith let the crowd know that a previous soundcheck here at Higher Ground had been instrumental in the development of "Most People" past the first two verses...actually right in the middle of the song itself.

The band's sound has definitely shifted, in large part due to the fact that there's a whole new member on the stage. Duane Betts, son of founding member of The Allman Brothers Band Dickey Betts, has joined the band as their touring guitarist. He's a great guitarist, but more showy than Dawes has previously been. His sound pushes the band further into rock territory than their more understated folk rock roots. It's got to be hard to completely click in with a band that has been playing together as long and as much as the Goldsmith brothers, Wylie Gelber, and Tay Straithairn have. They have had plenty of experience fitting themselves to other musicians' sounds, and they definitely engaged with the energy that Betts brought to the set. It didn't feel as easily cohesive, but in a way that's probably the goal. Dawes is a band that is consistently solid; Betts adds a new element to shake things up. In any case, he certainly had the audience's approval.

We've never seen Dawes cover a song in a set before, but they have been switching things up. Mids-set they pulled out a cover of The Waterboys "Fisherman's Blues," then opened up their four song encore with a Griffin-led cover of "Big Shot." That was followed by "Time Spent in Los Angeles" off of Nothing Is Wrong and "From A Window Seat" off Stories Don't End, before the real finale of "All Your Favorite Bands." Taylor Goldsmith stopped singing for the final verse, and grinned as he listened to the audience bring the new song to a close to end out the night. Check out some shots from the show below!

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