Last Night: Brett Dennen & Dawes At Fitzgerald's

Brett Dennen, Dawes Fitzgerald's May 5, 2011

While many celebrated Cinco de Mayo last night with margaritas and sombreros, Aftermath was at Fitzgerald's watching a folk-rock band and a pale, red-haired dude wearing a Golden State Warriors T-shirt. Nevertheless, we're used to marching to the beat of a different drummer, so Fitzgerald's it was.

Thursday marked the first night of tour for folk-pop songwriter Brett Dennen and fellow Californian openers Dawes (who we saw at Fitz last year). Showcasing their trademark blues-infused soul-rock, Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith and Co. played a too-short run-through of 2009's North Hills material, including "That Western Skyline," and "When My Time Comes," which, thanks to a recent Chevy commercial, has become eternally ingrained in our heads.

Also thrown into the mix were some new tunes from Dawes' forthcoming sophomore album Nothing Is Wrong (slated for a June 7 release), including "Fire Away" and the tongue-in-cheek tale "A Little Bit of Everything."

After just seven songs, Dawes thanked the crowd, graciously pretended to disregard the audience's request for an encore, and lugged their own gear off the stage.

Already hinted by the massive tour bus parked outside, Brett Dennen, unlike the modest members of Dawes, didn't lug his own gear. Taking the stage to cheers, Dennen instantly unveiled his calculated quirkiness: A vintage sports T-shirt, unkempt hair, thick-rimmed glasses, and bare feet; a lot of thought had gone into looking this untailored. He's basically Ben Kweller meets Chuckie from Rugrats.

Dennen, a California native, is 31 years old but appears an entire decade younger. Opener "Little Cosmic Girl," from this year's Loverboy, showed-off his proficient, studio-ready band.

The singer shimmied awkwardly yet endearingly behind his guitar, making faces, sticking out his tongue, gauchely licking his lips - all assumed subconscious idiosyncrasies that would eventually prove constant and laughable by night's end.

"Thank you! You're beautiful!" Dennen said, before delving into hits from his four-album discography, including Loverboy single "Sydney," So Much More's "She's Mine," and Hope for the Hopeless' "Wrong About Me."

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Neph Basedow
Contact: Neph Basedow