Concert Reviews

Last Night: Dawes, Corey Chisel and Jason Boesel at The Cavern

Dawes, Corey Chisel & Jason Boesel
The Cavern
March 4th, 2010

Slightly better than: waiting to battle the crowds at SXSW to see these media darlings.

When it was first announced that the strong triple-bill of Dawes, Cory Chisel and Jason Boesel (with Dawes backing him) would be taking place at The Cavern on Lower Greenville Ave, it didn't necessary seem like an odd fit.

But, last night, in the darkly lit lounge's downstairs bar-turned-concert-space, as Boesel, who also drums for Rilo Kiley, kicked off his country rockin' set at 9 o'clock, it was clear that the club was well on its way to being packed out completely. And, worse, the chances of scoring a decent vantage point at this show were about as good as the chances that Jenny Lewis showing up to watch her buddy's show with me hand-in-hand.

It was an early-arriving crowd--good news for a bill is as strong as this one. And it was evident early on that the notorious, Dallas-bred brand of "concert-talkers" would be effectively pushed to the back of the room, near the merch and pool tables--not that the super-fans that clogged the front portion of the room would've minded either way, most likely.

Joining those fans near the stage for the end of Boesel's breezy and engaging set was Cory Chisel, who sang along to the lyrics of Boesel's set-closing tune, "Hand of God". The image of Dawes performing as Boesel's backing band while Chisel joked along with the guys on stage provided the evening with a communal sense of togetherness that was quite representative of the tight quarters inside the club.

After a fairly short break, Chisel took the stage and folk-rocked out for the proceeding 40 minutes. Chisel's set primarily drew from his 2009 LP, Death Wont Send a Letter. Though Chisel never quite seemed completely comfortable with the his microphone levels, songs like "Born Again", "What Do You Need" and "Tennessee" burned with soulful flourishes that were likely influenced by Chisel's frequent collaborator, Brendan Benson. When Chisel's bandmate Adriel Harris would join him for harmonies (while playing the keys), she added an angelic elegance that successfully balanced Chisel's sometimes Petty-ish, sometimes Dylanish, nasal delivery.

Dawes got off to a quick start with the southern-rock number "When You Call My Name", and plowed through its Laurel Canyon-flavored retro-rock with mid-set efficiency, thanks to having already racked up some stage time with Boesel earlier in the evening. The CSNY-like harmonies that are the hallmark of the band's North Hills LP boasted a lower, more ballsy tone in the live setting, as opposed the sun-kissed and honey-draped choruses of the recorded product.

The band did break away from the North Hills record for a bit, as it busted out a new tune, "If I Wanted Someone." Judging by the response to the new material, Taylor Goldmsith could've likely sung from the Panda Express menu and it would've been warmly embraced by the amorous crowd.

Before the evening's second to last song, "That Western Skyline", Goldsmith--who was more affable and animated than could've been anticipated--expressed his thanks to the relatively large crowd for showing up this night after performing in front of a considerably smaller crowd a year ago when the band first came through Dallas. He quickly channeled that sincerity and gratitude into a gutsy, and joyous sing-along version of Dawes' signature song "When My Time Comes" to close out the set and put an end to an extremely righteous night of tunes that even a little elbow-bumping couldn't harm.

Critic's Notebook
Random Note:
While the show seemed to be really packed, I never felt totally uncomfortable. OK, maybe I was a little. With that said, I can't say that I'm in the world's biggest hurry to catch a nationally buzzed-about band play The Cavern anytime soon, as a result.

By The Way: There was a dude wearing some bright-as-day Michael Scott Fun Jeans. No lie. Also, if instead of going to The Cavern last night, you went to Target to buy one of those pseudo-retro, Don Draper wannabe-hats that Jason Mraz thinks are boss but you couldn't any? They were all at this show, sorry.