Dawes to open for Kings of Leon tonight at the Amphitheater

Dawes to open for Kings of Leon tonight at the Amphitheater
Photo courtesy of Emilio Herce

If you watch "Alternate Theories of Physics," a documentary detailing the making of Dawes' most recent album, "We're All Gonna Die," you'll witness band members Taylor Goldsmith, Griffin Goldsmith, Wylie Gelber and Lee Pardini hammer out 10 tracks at almost every stage of articulation. From footage of rewriting lyrics and riffs, to enlisting songstresses like Mandy Moore and Lucius to sing backup, the film, produced by friend of the band Kevin Hayes, is a reel of record production at its grittiest. 

"It happened organically," said drummer Griffin Goldsmith, whose face circulated cities throughout the tour when it took shape as a paper mask. "We were making our record in Los Angeles and our good friend Kevin Hayes was there everyday just hanging and taking pictures, and pretty soon in the process he decided he wanted to film it and took it upon himself to make the documentary."

Perhaps only Dawes' steadfast superfans have watched the documentary, which assumed its name from a song's working title (the song is now the album's caboose: "As If By Design") since its April release, but the release of their live album has rallied some new fans. "We're All Gonna Live" was recorded live over a period of four shows on their "An Evening With Dawes" tour and released within 15 days. 

"I think we wanted it to kind of give people the idea of what they were gonna experience if they came to see a Dawes show on this tour," Goldsmith said. "I love live records and it's such a different way of curating sounds and music. I totally would want to do it again. I think we all do. Especially nowadays you can just put something up on Spotify and just kind of feed the fire. I don't see why we wouldn't continue to do it for all these tours."

That tour has essentially since ended, but Dawes is still on the road. Tonight they'll accompany Kings of Leon at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. Following the 2016 release of their record "WALLS," Kings of Leon are traveling for their eponymously named tour. Dawes is the opening act for southern rockers on a number of shows through Oct. 28.

"Obviously we were familiar with [Kings of Leon's] music and we just one day got an email asking if this was something we'd wanna do and we jumped at the opportunity," Goldsmith said.

Whereas headlining tours allow for more indulgent setlists, an opener band must create a more trim lineup. For Dawes, however, serving as an opening act is still a creative opportunity, and a chance to share their music with people who otherwise may have no exposure. 

"It's really fun crafting a setlist for tours like this one that we're currently on with Kings of Leon," Goldsmith said. "The mentality is more of like kind of going to battle. Let's craft the setlist and go out there and play for 40 minutes and try to make it for people in the front row, or anybody, that is there to see Kings of Leon. Let's make it so that they leave the show saying, 'I really like that opening band. I want to buy their records. I want to check them out next time they come to town.'"

Lead singer and lyricist Taylor Goldsmith, brother to Griffin, is heralded for his humanistic and detailed songwriting. As one writer for American Songwriter said, "Taylor Goldsmith is a lyricist who sees the forest, the trees, and the contours of every leaf," never skipping a beat when it comes to his lyrics. 

"Roll With The Punches," track three on "We're All Gonna Die," is one of those songs that encompasses the breadth of Taylor Goldsmith's crisp yet creative writing style. Describing a painful separation, he sings "The separation was logistical / Deciding what belongs to whom / How dying love manifests / In a rug or a chest / The decorations of a room."

For Griffin Goldsmith, it's songs like the sonically heavy "Picture of a Man" and "Quitter" that allow for lots of creative drumming space. 

"On 'Picture of a Man' the challenge is morphing the acoustic drum sound to what I'm triggering in the electric drum sound," Goldsmith said. "It's fun to do that. It's more challenging. 'Quitter,' for me, there's an added drum. So it kind of feels like gymnastics or something for a drummer because it forces you to be really precise."

Tonight's performance with Kings of Leon at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater begins at 7:30 p.m. with doors at 6:30 p.m.

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