Just one night into SoundLand, and goddamn — our elbows are already sore from all the rubbing. By the time we showed up at TPAC's Jackson Hall for the SoundLand kickoff party, all the best free grub had already been picked over, so we were left to gnaw on some sad kabob remains while schmoozing with a few dozen media and industry types. Nice folks in fancy jackets, sure. And we hollered at SoundLand honcho Jason Moon Wilkins for a bit about the shows he's most psyched to see — that guy's got his hands full, and we feel like he's doing a good job with it all. But it was a real treat to see several of our service-industry/day-job-havin' buds manning the photo booth and performing menial tasks all in the name of scoring a free pass. And it's those buds with whom we wandered the short distance over to War Memorial in order to catch another familiar face — that of Jonny Corndawg — kicking the whole thing off.
Dawes proper were certainly softer, more traditional fare. They filled their set with sentimental and melancholy ballads — big-hearted, earnest stuff that doesn't frequently land in The Spin's typical taste zone. (We tend toward more cynical stuff.) Nevertheless, they were good players with good voices and a knack for a strong melody. "If you can give yourself to someone, then you should," they sang as the piano swept along. And — surprise! — McCauley and Corndawg came out for some harmonizing and guesting. These guys all love each other. Aw.
Throughout the front half of his set, M. Ward milled about the stage being a great guitarist, charismatic performer and passable harmonica player. He played his whispery, acoustic blues-folk ballads well, for sure. But where was the rock?! Oh right — it was over at the Ty Segall show at Exit/In. (More on that later.) Kurt Wagner and Tony Crow of Lambchop joined in for a tune — some lyric-Googling later revealed the song to be "Oh Lonesome Me," and Crow's piano playing was definitely our favorite thing about it. Then it was a ragtimey piano ballad, and some other piano ballads, and some more gentle blues-folk. Dawes finally returned to the stage (Surprise! Again!) for some full and luxurious folk rockin'. But it was just that: gentle folk rockin'. So we enjoyed a couple numbers and headed out, content to leave a little something in our tank for the remainder of the Weekend of Rock.