A once-in-a-lifetime event occurred at Brother’s Lounge on Cleveland’s west side last Friday, as Cleveland rock band Dawn Lights performed in the group’s first and only concert ever, supported by 2nd Half and Americanrockstar. For the 200+ rowdy fans in attendance, the event truly was a special (and rocking) experience.
Dawn Lights used the event as their official album release of the full-length “My Will Alone”, a studio project that was a labor of love for multi-instrumentalist Dean Johnson and vocalist Eric Hess. To bring the album to life on-stage required the recruitment of three others – Chris Donley (bass, vocals), Eric Antonik (guitars) and Steve Simbeck (guitars). After the way Dawn Lights captured its audience Friday, it will surely be difficult for the band to keep to their promise of “never playing another show”.
The band was the final act of the evening, and even though it was their first performance, Dawn Lights fired on all cylinders. Though Johnson played guitar and drums on the album, on this night he kept the beats going behind the drumkit. Antonik and Simbeck paired up as a skilled guitar duo creating the wall of sound to serve as a springboard for the well-perfected vocal harmonies by Hess and Donley. Donley, who also serves plays bass and sings in Americanrockstar, complimented Hess’s vocals well, providing powerful harmonies.
From the first song to the last, Dawn Lights played as a veteran band, bringing life to an album which until Friday only existed as a studio construct. My Will Alone, the concert began with the mellow intro track, steadily picking up steam throughout the set before finishing with a flourish with “Watch it Break” and “Blue and Grey”. Simbeck and Antonik’s guitars seemed to take over the room for the last song, and as Hess sang the final note, it seemed like the night had simply flew by – a sure sign of a great evening.
Dawn Lights surely was energized during their set by the great performances that preceded them. 2nd Half, who played just before Dawn Lights, rocked a particularly high-energy 9-song set. While mixing old favorites with brand-new jams, singer-guitarists Ed Gandolf and Matt Majoros showed off their well-honed vocal harmonies, perched on a backdrop of driving guitar riffs, while drummer Drew Scalero brought the beats.
After ripping through the brand-new jam “Got it Made”, chants of “2nd Half! 2nd Half!” reverberated through the room. Unfortunately, that was to be the band’s final song of the night, but as Gandolf told the crowd before departing the stage, “Rock and Roll will never die.” True words, especially if the band continues to make outstanding new music like the songs debuted on Friday. 2nd Half’s detuned guitars set a heavy, metal-influenced tone which is brightened with the vocal harmonies from Majoros and Gandolf, creating music that is heavy and plenty positive.
Americanrockstar, the first band of the evening, also played a fine set, baptizing Brother’s Lounge with a rock n’ roll fire that the rock n’ roll bar had possibly not experienced before. Americanrockstar cranked their amps loud and showed aggression, warming up the crowd well for the evening to come.
Fortunately for anyone who may have happened to miss the show, the event was recorded for an upcoming video release, which will be available to the public soon. For more information, check out Dawn Lights on Facebook.
Dawn Lights Setlist
1. My Will Alone
5. The Rising
7. Brace for Impact
8. Watch It Break
9. Blue and Grey
2nd Half Setlist
1. Other Side
2. Best is Yet to Come
3. One Night Alone
5. This One
6. Inside Out
7. Without a Sound
8. Bring Me Home
9. Got it Made