They’re both bands that draw inspiration from vintage ’70s sounds, but the big difference between co-headliners Dawes and Blitzen Trapper could be summed up pretty succinctly by their choice of cover songs at a jam-packed Royale on Friday night: Dawes turned in a faithful rendition of the sunny Paul Simon track “Kodachrome,” while Blitzen Trapper tackled the grittier Zeppelin classic “Good Times Bad Times.”
Dawes played first, taking the stage before 7 p.m. and squeezing everything that it could out of its hour-plus set. It’s been a crazy year for the VH1 “You Oughta Know” poster boys, but if the road is wearing on them they weren’t showing it as they nimbly rocked through songs from their standout second album, Nothing Is Wrong, and took time to stretch out on material from their 2009 debut, North Hills.
Even as the critical acclaim piles up and its audiences grow, Dawes seems quite intent on earning its keep on stage night in and out. Despite the early start time, front man Taylor Goldsmith and brother/drummer Griffin were animated from the get-go as the band plowed through “The Way You Laugh” and kicked the vocal harmonies into high gear with “If I Wanted Someone.” The crowd sang along enthusiastically to “How Far We’ve Come” and “Fire Away” and, as it usually does, took the lead on the refrain to “When My Time Comes.”
The band’s trademark harmonies are surely one its strongest assets, but some of the set’s strongest moments emerged when Taylor Goldsmith’s raw vocals took the spotlight. North Hills’ epic closer “Peace in the Valley” was punched up by a heavier backbeat and built slowly into a furious crescendo. Later, “A Little Bit of Everything” emerged as the unexpected emotional climax of the set as Goldsmith took things to another level with some animated storytelling and perhaps his finest guitar work of the night.
Dawes may be generating more mainstream buzz these days, but Blitzen Trapper wasted no time demonstrating that it was a worthy anchor for this co-bill. Touring behind its new album, American Goldwing, the always-reliable Portland, Ore. band kicked right into “Might Find it Cheap” and a tight “Sleepytime in the Western World,” jamming 20 songs and plenty of banter into its 80-minute set.
Eric Earley and company leaned heavily on material from Goldwing and 2008’s Furr. The band really hit its stride mid-set when the rocker “Your Crying Eyes” gave way to a raucous, cowbell-and-maracas-fueled throwback with “Miss Spiritual Tramp” and a fine rendition of the slow-burner “Black River Killer.”
That led to a run of Goldwing tracks to close the main set and begin the encore, where Blitzen Trapper closed things out with the crowd-pleaser “Big Black Bird ” and “Good Times Bad Times.”
Backed by a full band, brother-sister duo the Belle Brigade opened the show with a short set of catchy tunes, displaying perhaps the most harmonious four-guitar attack Boston has ever witnessed.
The Way You Laugh / If I Wanted Someone / That Western Skyline / How Far We’ve Come / Fire Away / So Well / Peace in the Valley / Kodachrome / A Little Bit of Everything / When My Time Comes / Time Spent in Los Angeles
Blitzen Trapper’s Setlist:
Might Find It Cheap / Sleepytime in the Western World / Astronaut / Wild Mountain Nation / Love the Way You Walk Away / God & Suicide / Girl in a Coat / Furr / My Home Town / Your Crying Eyes / Miss Spiritual Tramp / Black River Killer / Taking It Easy Too Long / American Goldwing / Street Fighting Sun / Fletcher // Stranger in a Strange Land (EE solo) / Jericho /Big Black Bird / Good Times Bad Times
The Belle Brigade: