Dawes at Wolf Trap with Joseph and Shovels & Rope

Last night my friend and I made our annual pilgrimage to Wolf Trap for a summer concert. We’ve tried to pick one concert to go to each summer for the past several years since we both love Wolf Trap and are willing to make the terrible trek there during rush hour on a weekday. Given some of the traffic I’ve sat in on my way there before last night was pretty easy. This year we picked the stellar triple bill of Joseph, Shovels & Rope, and Dawes. I love when three bands I would pay to see on their own are playing together. That’s only partly true. Sometimes I wish the opening acts were headlining somewhere so they would have more time.

I felt like last night was a family night at the concert. There were a lot more children than I’ve ever seen at Wolf Trap before, but also because of the bands themselves. Joseph is three sisters. Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst who comprise Shovels & Rope are married, and two of the five members of Dawes are brothers. Family all around up on that stage last night.

Joseph was full of beautiful harmonies as always last night. They were all acoustic for this set. They played a bunch of stuff off their I’m Alone, No You’re Not album though sadly not my favorite, Blood & Tears. I didn’t figure I was going to hear it so I wasn’t too disappointed. They have an EP of cover songs that they put out last year and at one point they said they were going to play a cover song and I was hoping for “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” because I adore that song and love their cover of it. Sadly it was “Moonlight Mile” instead. Oh well. They got a fairly generous set for the first of three acts so I can’t complain too much.

Shovels & Rope is always a sight to behold when they play. It’s just two people and they play like every instrument often at the same time. I always imagine them as two different people playing one man band rigs together. I mean at one point he was playing the guitar and the piano at the same time. Who does that? I’m not sure if they were supposed to be co-headliners or the second opening act but they played at least as long as Dawes if not slightly longer. I do enjoy them, but I wish their set had been a bit shorter because Dawes’ set seemed really short.

This is the first time I’ve seen Dawes since I saw their amazing show at the Ryman Auditorium. That spoiled me a bit since they played for 3 hours. I knew we weren’t getting anywhere close to that last night, but it still went by way too fast. Wolf Trap has a curfew though, so they could only play as long as they played. They didn’t play my favorite song, “Right on Time”, but I didn’t expect them to. Other than that I have to say they played a pretty perfect set. It was really a great retrospective of all 6 of their albums. They played at least one song from each one. They obviously played stuff from their new album Passwords and happily they played the songs I would have picked.

Apparently according to Dawes last night’s show was the largest audience they’d ever played to as a headliner. Obviously they had played to bigger audiences at festival and as openers. That kind of shocked me. I wouldn’t have guessed. But they were super excited to be headlining Wolf Trap and it showed. Shovels & Rope said something to the effect of Wolf Trap and Red Rocks man. There’s a reason why it’s my favorite concert venue (I’ve still not managed to make it to Red Rocks. One day.)

It was an excellent show. It was a perfect summer night of music. Until next year Wolf Trap.

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