Live Review: Dawes with Caitlin Rose at Vinyl Music Hall, Pensacola, FL – 15th October 2013

By on Monday, 21st October 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Last Tuesday night, Caitlin Rose (pictured above) played Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola, Florida, opening for Los Angeles-based rock band Dawes.  I reviewed Rose’s second album ‘The Stand-In’ (read the review here), so I was excited when she announced that she would be playing a show in a venue local to me.  It’s a rare treat for me to be able to review an album and a live show for the same artist, and on the occasions when I have, there’s always been a plane ticket involved.  I first heard about the show via Rose’s Facebook announcement, and before I bought my ticket, I didn’t even realize that she wasn’t the headliner.

Rose’s live show didn’t disappoint, even though most of her audience at Vinyl were clearly impatient for Dawes to take the stage.  I may have been the only exception to that, not being a huge fan of Dawes myself.  Rose played a delightfully substantial opening set, including several songs from latest album ‘The Stand-In’, as well a couple of older numbers and a liberal smattering of covers, which she said onstage that she actually prefers to performing her own songs.  In particular, her cover of The National’s ‘Pink Rabbits’ has received significant attention, and for good reason.  (If you haven’t already heard it, you can check it out on YouTube here.)

The Pensacola crowd responded most appreciatively to ‘Waitin’’, which many of them had no doubt heard recently when it was featured on the popular ABC television show ‘Nashville’.  Rose referenced the ‘Nashville’ version somewhat ironically, noting that her live show contains none of the contrived stagecraft seen there.  Her smooth, straightforward vocal performance and the tight musicianship of her band allowed the songs to shine through on their own merits.

Rose’s sultry, bluesy style and edgy lyrics seemed at first to be at odds with the mellow folk rock sound of Dawes.  However, when Dawes took the stage to an enthusiastic audience response, it became clear that their live performance would be more appealing than their somewhat bland radio offerings.  Hit radio single ‘From a Window Seat’, which had never captured my attention before, was the sizzling highlight of the set.  Lead singer Taylor Goldsmith took the opportunity to show off his considerable improvisational skills on electric guitar, while his brother Griffin, on drums, all but upstaged Taylor with his passionate playing, comical facial contortions, and flawless vocal harmonies.

Even the slower and more pensive ‘A Little Bit of Everything’ benefitted from the band’s onstage energy, and I found myself singing along despite the egregious lyrics in its second verse.  I wasn’t familiar enough with the band’s back catalogue to identify all of their older tunes, but the crowd were clearly excited to hear them, especially ‘Fire Away’ and ‘When My Time Comes’.  Another recent radio hit (and my personal Dawes favourite) ‘Time Spent In Los Angeles’ was wisely saved for the encore, leaving me with the impression that maybe I’d dismissed this band prematurely.  Even if you’re not in love with their studio recordings, they’re worth seeing live, especially if they’re joined by quality opening acts like Caitlin Rose.

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