Wednesday night was humid, hot and the air was filled with music. The California quartet Dawes led out the night with their Laurel Canyon sound. Their latest album Nothing Is Wrong dropped the day before their arrival in Columbus (OV reviewed the album here.) and they were riding the high of the latest release performing for the crowd with enthusiasm and confidence.
Constant touring has brought great strength to this group, and their passion infectious. Playing songs such as “Western Skyline” and the more well-known “When My Time Comes”, from their debut album Going North, they captured the audience completely. Knockout numbers from their new album such as “If I Wanted” and “Fire Away” sent many of the crowd back to the merchandise table to score a copy of the newest release.
With an affinity for writing songs filled with imagery and ambiance the group belted out “A Little Bit of Everything” (from Nothing Is Wrong) stretching the song out like taffy in the summer sun. With a more soulful sound than the album version and at points speaking the lyrics rather than singing vocalist Taylor Goldsmith drew the crowd into the song completely, and if this isn’t the first single off the new album it will be a crying shame.
This California group is more than worth a listen, and if their summer schedule puts them all over the country and in support of a variety of artists.
Bright Eyes took the stage later that evening and in true form delivered a set with treasures from many of the group’s albums, ranging from Fevers and Mirrors to The People’s Key. Bright Eyes, particularly the writing of Conor Oberst, draws a particular kind of listener and no one arrives at a Bright Eyes show halfheartedly.
Of course after Bright Eyes took the stage and lights were caught in the structures and they lent an authenticity to the somewhat cosmic voice of Danny Brewer (who narrates The People’s Key) and his recitations of love, aliens and space travel.
The best way to describe this Bright Eyes tour is complete. There was nothing frivolous or unneeded in the set, the light show or the music; and everything that was needed was included. This is not the greasy-haired youngster that some may have pictured but rather an artist whose catalog is large and diverse enough to fill a two-hour set and only scratches the surface in terms of material. This is a man who knows what is needed to connect to his audience, and provides the sensory tools he needs to convey the message. Setting the mood and the canvas he wants to paint for the audience it’s almost as if Conor is trying to take the listeners back to the moment of inspiration for the song and show them how the idea came to be.
This is also a band of professionals, whose talent may sometimes be overshadowed by Conor’s emotive personality, but who in their own right deliver solid performances. Mike Mogis and Nathanial Wolcott seem to enjoy themselves on stage, smiling when appropriate and Laura Berhenn of the Mynabirds joins the group to play keyboards and backup vocals.
Bright Eyes opened with “Firewall” and “Haile Salassie” from The People’s Key and led into “Take It Easy (Love Nothing)” from Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. Bright Eyes has stayed fairly consistent on this tour opening with the same three or four songs, sometimes changing up the order.
The real fun in this set is the mix-up of some of the older material and the changing song order. Some songs just have to be in the set, such as ‘The Calendar Hung Itself” and “Poison Oak”.
The set was diverse, yet held enough fan favorites to draw cheers when the opening chords rang out, “Four Winds” and “Lua” were absolute crowd favorites. The four-song encore consistently contains “Lover I Don’t Have to Love” and “One For You, One for Me” however the other two songs are changed out each night.
If in fact this is the last Bright Eyes album and tour it will be the end of many of these image-filled songs, not likely to be heard again they will be put to bed with the name Bright Eyes. Perhaps an equally great loss will be the introduction of new music that filters down through Bright Eyes as they collaborate and tour with little-known but talented artists.
For Bright Eyes fans this is a not miss tour, and not just because it might be the last, because it really is that good
Dawes setlist: If I Wanted, Western Skyline, Coming Back Home, How Far We’ve Come, A Little Bit of Everything, Time Spent in Los Angeles, When My Time Comes, Million Dollar Bill, Fire Away
Bright Eyes setlist: Firewall, Haile Selassie, Take It Easy (Love Nothing), Jejune Stars, Four Winds, An Attempt To Tip the Scales, From a Balance Beam, Trees Get Wheeled Away, We Are Nowhere and It’s Now, Shell Games, Approximate Sunlight, Arc of Time, Falling Out of Love at This Volume, Hot Knives, Cartoon Blues, Bowl of Oranges, Poison Oak, Old Soul Song, The Calendar Hung Itself, Ladder Song, Lua, Lover I don’t Have to Love, Road To Joy, One for You, One for Me
Written By Meredith Underhill
Pictures from songkick.com