Dawes Rocks Pollak

Folk-rock band “Dawes” performed at Monmouth’s Pollak Theater Sept. 25, along with opening act Johnathan Rice and Hayes Carll.

At the start of Rice’s very mellow performance, the crowd looked like what I expected: every group of middle-age friends had a row to themselves. Rice’s performance stuck mainly to the songs, with few breaks for some intimate stories with the audience. When Rice did speak, his Scottish accent combined with a slurred tone conjured up some amusing statements: “I’ve never been to college…I guess this is as close as it’s gonna get.”

Hayes Carll’s set started quickly after Rice’s, and now the seats were starting to fill up. It is sad that a majority of the crowd missed Rice’s set and came at Carll’s because Rice was better. Unfortunately, the only thing that kept me awake during Carll’s repetitive set were his personal and entertaining stories about his son and travels. The audience was more receptive to Rice too. Audience member Justin Rayan from Fort Rivers stated, “I’ve never heard of [Johnathan Rice] before but I thought he was really good…I thought the band backing him was really good…I’ll be sure to check out some more of his music.”

As Carll’s set ended and Dawes started setting up, I looked back (my seat was towards the front right of the theater) and saw that there was barely a seat empty. The whole theater was packed in anticipation for the band. The lights dimmed and the crowd started to holler and whistle, but the band added extra suspense by not yet appearing.

After about the third dimming of the lights, Dawes’ vocalist, Taylor Goldsmith, appeared first. He was followed by the rest of the band, as well as an explosion of applause from the crowd. The rest of the band consists of younger brother Griffin Goldsmith (drums), Wylie Gelber (bass), and Tay Strathairn (keyboards). They opened with a more mellow song compared to the rest of the set, and by the third song, people were already giving standing ovations and dancing at their seat.

The show was very steady up until the middle of their set, where they unleashed this amazing song that clearly affected the band, as well as the audience. The lights were flashing from color to color, and incredible guitar, piano and drum solos were played with so much passion and intensity that I almost considered getting up to dance.

The rest of the crowd did not consider; they got up and danced around. This was the moment when most fans disregarded their seat and ran towards the front of the stage. Everyone was shaking their hair, along with their hips, from a couple in their 20’s, to families, to women who had finally escaped a night from their kids. From that point on, the show captivated a mood of rock, rhythm, and moves. The energy stayed up when Hayes Carll appeared for a jam with the band; it was so much better than his actual set.

They played a reasonably long set and closed the show with two surprise encores. The energy was way up, and everyone was screaming, clapping, and standing during their last three songs. After the house lights went up, you could sense the flow of great vibes in the air and see it for yourself at the merchandise table line.

Dawes had very good stage presence. Taylor Goldsmith was smiling from the first note to last, and he entertained the swooning fans by looking into the crowd during more love-like songs and just acting very charming overall. Nothing was more entertaining than watching his brother make the most extreme facial expressions during his drum solos or just a fast-paced part of the song.

Dawes must be used to seeing familiar faces because these fans are very dedicated. Justin Rayas has seen the band “double digit times” and Van Pauls from Keyport, NJ exclaimed that he “love[d] it, I love these guys…I’ve seen them two times.”

Dawes does not just attract adults, but their clean performance attracted families as well. Nine year old Matthew Patel said, “I was really excited to see them [for my first concert] cause I really love the band Dawes.” When asked if he was really excited about the two encores, he responded with a very enthusiastic “Yes!”

So if you are into folk rock and love awesome guitar solos and rockin’ instrumental parts, then Dawes is the right band for you. Be sure to check out their most recent album “Stories Don’t End” and you will not be disappointed.

PHOTO TAKEN from loosemusic.com