Dawes brings warmth to a snowy night at the Englert

Rock band Dawes played the Englert Theater Sunday night.


Wyatt Dlouhy

Lead vocalist and guitarist Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes sings during “An Evening with Dawes” at the Englert Theater in Iowa City on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. Dawes is an American folk-rock band hailing from Los Angeles.

Adrian Enzastiga, Arts Reporter

The stage was washed with blue light, a layer of smoke swirling just underneath the tall ceiling of the Englert. The instruments lay still, waiting to be played. Two microphones, one in the center and one off to the side, stood like a set of antennae in front of the keyboard and drum set.

Finally, the auditorium lights darkened, and the crowd erupted into applause. Silence. Then, a single figure walked on stage — Dawes keyboardist Lee Pardini — and began to play, invoking another roar from the audience. One by one, the rest of the band members emerged on stage, each one sparking a louder response from the audience. Finally, the drummer hit, and the band began to play.

Those were the first few moments from the Jan. 27 Dawes concert as part of its tour An Evening With Dawes. The Southern California indie-rock band put on an more than three-hour show, with a brief intermission, and filled every moment with energy, excitement, and unrivaled passion.

The first song had the shoes of every audience member vibrating with each hit of the drums. It was a slow rhythm, but the noise was powerful enough to be felt in the floor and the seats.

Throughout the show, the lights changed. First they were blue, then switched to a hazy silver, and then a deep red. It changed with the tone of the music and gave each song a unique quality. One song, specifically, had a moment in which everything went dark, except for flashing white strobe lights, creating silhouettes of the band members that disappeared and reappeared like bolts of lightning.

Lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist Taylor Goldsmith was a fantastic live performer, using his whole body to sing. He hit some impressively high notes as he took his body to either side of the stage.  Throughout much of the show, he had his hands out in front of him, feeling the beat, and he threw up his arms as a guitar solo began. He leaned back with his instrument, hitting each chord almost violently.

The other guitarist, Trevor Menear, and the basist, Wylie Gelber, were excellent as well. Each played with a smile on his face, throwing their bodies into the music, especially during the instrumental breaks. The sounds that the three of them created was incredible, each of the instruments flowing together seamlessly as one powerful anthem.

The Taylor Goldsmith’s brother, Griffin Goldsmith, played the drums to their fullest and sang along on a few tunes. One song brought the Goldsmith brothers and Pardini up to sing. Similar to the three guitars, the three voices matched perfectly and created a beautiful harmony.

Audience members gathered on the sides of the auditorium in order to stand, but by the fourth song, almost the entire left side of the auditorium was standing. Each song brought more people up and moving, many individuals dancing wildly in the aisles or clapping along with every note of the guitars. Before intermission, there was a crowd front and center, directly beneath the center mic.

During many of the songs, the band got quieter, allowing for the audience to have their voices be heard as they sang along. During these quiet moments, the audience swayed peacefully side to side. The devotion of the audience was overwhelming; in every moment of silence people shouted their love for the band.

During the final three songs, Taylor Goldsmith had his eyes shut and his whole body tense. He stood on stage as if it were the Hollywood Hills, and he was overlooking the Los Angeles skyline. He described the thrill of connecting with a room full of complete strangers and how music had the power to bring people together. A main theme of the band’s latest album is about forgiveness, and the band portrayed that honestly with emotional intelligence.

Every member of Dawes had great energy and excellent facials, and the dynamic among them was very wholesome. Overall, the band put on a perfect Sunday night show with a lot of heart and soul.