The Chicago cold may have kept a few fans at bay when Dawes stopped by the Riviera Theatre mid-week, but it didn’t keep the band from blazing through two full sets of the music and storytelling Dawes fans have come to know and love over the years. On the road to treat fans to “An Evening with Dawes,” the group proved itself worthy of a crowd that seemed to somehow simultaneously hang on and sing every single word.
Following the lead of the latest studio album, the band kicked things off with “One of Us,” a new song that flexes the band’s rock muscles. “It’s nice to be here in one of the greatest cities in the world,” lead singer and guitarist Taylor Goldsmith said after a breezy “Fire Away” from 2011’s Nothing is Wrong. “That’s my brother on the drums,” he added, pointing at Griffin Goldsmith, who took the lead on “From a Window Seat” before passing it off to keyboardist Lee Pardini and then back to Taylor.
After demonstrating the depths of his vocals on “Right on Time” and channeling 70s-era Paul Simon with new tune “Picture of a Man,” Taylor mentioned that they left the opening band at home so that they could perform two sets. “I hope you’re prepared for a night of music,” he said, before a passionate performance of “Now That It’s Too Late, Maria.” New tunes “Roll With the Punches” and “Less Than Five Miles Away” felt as if they’d already made a home among Dawes fans, while crowd favorites “A Little Bit of Everything” and “When My Time Comes” had the entire venue singing.
The second set featured a steady sprinkling of new and old songs. The slow and easy “Roll Tide” brought all but bassist Wylie Gelber to the front of the stage to add the impact of the song’s harmonized chorus, while “Hey Lover” brought Griffin and his tambourine into the spotlight. “Sometimes quitting is the best thing you can do for yourself. This is a song in defense of quitting,” Taylor said ahead of new tune “Quitter.”
“It seems like we’re entering into the second half of the second half,” Taylor laughed. “I feel like we’re connecting and we can talk. You know, each night feels more special. Nothing makes you feel more special than live fucking music!” he proclaimed before launching into the punchy “Coming Back to a Man,” on which Pardini shined. Highlights of the second set included house party anthem “When the Tequila Runs Out,” 2015 favorite “Things Happen,” and the slow but rocking “If I Wanted Someone.”
“You guys have been truly amazing,” Taylor told the crowd before sliding into the soft and sultry title track from the newest album. After a brief exist, Taylor and Griffin entered the dark stage for a short sibling jam that brought each band member back to the stage one-by-one. The first half of the encore was the somber-yet-alluring “Peace in the Valley” from 2009’s North Hills. As the first few familiar piano notes of “All Your Favorite Bands” rang out across the venue, the crowd seemed to move just a bit closer to the stage, as if to soak up every last bit of the show that they could. Although if we know anything about Dawes, it’s that they shine in a live setting – so it’s never too long until the next show.