Two rootsy young rock bands that commonly owe their grassrootsy local audiences to the Current 89.3 and its dedication to new music, Dawes and Blitzen Trapper earned surprisingly different receptions in a sold-out, two-fer concert Friday night at First Avenue.
Blitzen Trapper, which went on first, sounded tight and diverse and even genius at times. But the cramped crowd mostly just treated the Portland, Ore.-based folk-rock sextet to polite applause and nothing you could call a rabid response.
Dawes, on the other hand, earned a fanatical reaction from start ("The Way You Laugh") to finish ("Fire Away"). Fans received certain songs in the soulful Los Angeles quartet's set like apostle creeds, loudly singing out the philosophical lyrics to "When My Time Comes" and "A Little Bit of Everything" and cheering frontman Taylor Goldsmith's every flare-up guitar solo.
But then, Dawes maybe has more in common with bands on a classic-rock station than the Current's crop. Where Blitzen Trapper has quickly issued six albums in eight years -- semi-experimental records that are hit-and-miss -- Dawes has put out two more carefully crafted, fully realized discs. And where Blitzen Trapper had a coolly aloof, laid-back stage demeanor typical of today's indie-rock stars, Dawes was far more energetic and, yes, showy, but always heartfelt.
Dawes has also taken the classic approach of touring nonstop, and the Twin Cities area has especially become a favorite stop. They just announced a Dec. 30 date at the Varsity Theater to go with a sold-out New Year's Eve show.
"All our tours are starting to feel like the road to Minneapolis," Goldsmith said early in the 90-minute set.
More than its other gigs, the organ- and piano-spiked band added a jammy element to certain songs. "Peace in the Valley" broke into a musical outro reminiscent of Wilco's "At Least That's What You Said," and "Way Back to Me" was boosted with extra guitar played by Ethan Gruska of opening band Belle Brigade. A playful cover of Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" nicely added to the bar-band spirit.
Blitzen Trapper had some equally classic-sounding moments, from the semi-acoustic and hazy ditties "Furr" and "Love the Way You Walk Away" to the Neil Young-style guitarathon finale "Street Fighting Sun." It was a fine showing, but never enough to raise doubt over which band was in charge.
See Dawes' set list at startribune.com/artcetera
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 • Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisRstrib