SAN FRANCISCO — Southern California folk-rockers Dawes came to the Fillmore Tuesday during the second night of Noise Pop 2017. They brought their Laurel Canyon sound to a city drenched in rain for what feels like the entire winter. It was billed as “An Evening with Dawes” so there was no opening act. But maybe no one told the headliners, as they started half an hour later than expected.
Yet they came out with fire, brimstone and a new and edgier sound in support of their new album that lead singer Taylor Goldsmith referenced before he jumped into their second song: “We just came out with a new album. It’s called We’re All Gonna Die. I don’t think that’s news to anyone.”
With guitarist Trevor Menear supporting Dawes, at least on this leg of the trip, Dawes brought a more raucous sound. I have seen them a handful of times in my life, and now three times at the Fillmore, and there has never been an occasion where they rocked as hard before. Goldsmith and Menear traded solos and the quiet band that had previously resembled something akin to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young or Jackson Browne turned into the Dead Live at Budokan.
Goldsmith wailed into the microphone while his brother, Griffin Goldsmith, mercilessly pounded the drums. Menear worked the fretboard like a magician. When Goldsmith’s string broke in the middle of a song, Menear picked up the slack until a guitar tech could bring another out to the singer, and no one missed a beat.
Noise Pop, in the past, has been an exploration of new or lesser-known talent, but one of the benefits to putting together a lineup of talented veteran musicians is the professionalism they bring to their jobs. Dawes came out with a ferocity and speed to their sound that I had not seen previously.