Dawes August 8, Sayers Club at SLS.
“May all your favorite bands stay together.” It’s a fitting toast from Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith on Saturday night, echoing the title of the LA folk-rockers’ latest record and tapping into the grateful energy of a band and a crowd that almost missed each other.
After the July closing of Downtown’s beloved Bunkhouse, Dawes and a couple dozen other scheduled shows were suddenly homeless. But most of them will go on under these shimmering lights in the SLS’ stripped-down Sayers Club, saved from the fire as the Bunkhouse Series (of which Las Vegas Weekly’s parent company, Greenspun Media Group, is a sponsor).
The room is full for this kickoff performance, with around 200 attendees. But considering that Dawes’ last Vegas show happened on Life Is Beautiful’s main stage—and that they just played Bonnaroo—it feels like a secret treat to see the Americana outfit in this intimate setting. Sayers Club has dropped its ultra-lounge persona for a pure music-hall experience, the open floor snugging right up to the stage.
Dawes is generous with familiar favorites, from “Time Spent in Los Angeles” to the set-staple cover of “Fisherman’s Blues” to the band’s most recognized tune, “When My Time Comes.” But newest album All Your Favorite Bands is the dominant flavor, played nearly in its entirety with an easy confidence. Maybe that’s because it was road-tested and recorded almost entirely live. It’s a tribute to the abilities of these musicians that they’re still able to reinvent the songs so compellingly.
Songs are sped up, jams are extended and the signature Dawes sound of a clean, bright guitar pushed just to the brink of distortion sweeps through the crowd during the marathon two-hour set. Brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith slay with their harmony, voices fusing and compounding and marking the evening with a memorable tenor reminiscent of LA bands gone by.
With the success of opening night, it’s impossible not to get excited about the Bunkhouse Series’ upcoming lineup. Getting face to face with groups like Doomtree, Melvins and The Polyphonic Spree doesn’t happen often anywhere, let alone in Las Vegas, where indie rock’s good fight continues.