April 15th, 2012, 10:26 am · · posted by GUEST
At a festival like Coachella that offers such wondrous variety, it’s no wonder that often times good old-fashioned rock-and-roll bands get lost in the shuffle. Thankfully, Goldenvoice saw fit to book roots-rockers Dawes back-to-back with indie troubadour/axeman M. Ward in the Mojave tent during the early evening.
Dawes, an L.A. quartet (+1 for the occasion) formed from the ashes of pop-punk act Simon Dawes, could’ve sprung from the fertile Laurel Canyon scene that spawned the Eagles in the ’70s. The band’s earnest songwriting and AM radio-ready instrumentation felt right at home in the desert, so close to where obvious inspiration Gram Parsons spent his final hours. Slide guitar leads and three-part harmonies dominated Dawes’ set, and frontman Taylor Goldsmith’s Jackson Browne delivery during entire-tent sing-alongs like the anthemic “When My Time Comes” won over even the sleeveless (and freezing?) dudes bobbing their heads at the edge of the tent. The best compliment I can give is that Dawes should not only return next weekend, but the one after–they’d be just as good at Stagecoach (and likely just as well received). “When you’re practicing in your garage you never dream that you’ll play Coachella,” Goldsmith gushed toward the end of the set. Dream come true.
For an opening day stocked with virtuoso gunslingers (Gary Clark Jr., the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach), M. Ward certainly held his own shortly after Dawes’ set finished. Ward, whose smoky baritone is distinguishable enough, added some impressive fretwork to the almost-rockabilly “I Get Ideas” and a solo acoustic tune with some furious fingerpicking. Ward’s set lagged, however, when after four songs his backing quartet left the stage–the pace slowed irrecoverably, and sadly many fans streamed from the sides of the Mojave tent, bound for something(s) a little more upbeat.
Click here to check out photos from Day 2.
By Ben Wener for the Orange County Register.