Concert Review: Dave Matthews Band

Rain is No Match for Dave Matthews Band Beats

By Giana Pacinelli

I was crouched in a corner of a Tiki bar, one of hundreds hiding out as the rain came beating down on the lawn chairs and blankets that were holding our place on the lawn of Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre Saturday night. The show was to have started 45 minutes ago, but Dave Matthews hadn’t come out yet. I wondered if he was hidden away in his own tiki hut, as scared of the rain as I am. Abruptly, you heard the unmistakable tuning of a guitar. Suddenly, the rain didn’t matter. As my friends and I scurried our way up to our seats, our plastic ponchos rubbed against strangers touting the same ensemble. One of my friends turned to me and said “Imagine all of these people waiting for you in the rain.” The thought gave me chills. Why wouldn’t I be racing up muddy steps to hear the opening song? There wasn’t even a question. But as I looked around at the scene taking place around me, I thought of how it must look for the person at the other end of the mic. It had to be everything. Dave came on and instantly thanked the crowd for being there. For standing in ponchos, eager to get jiving to his music. This is everything. It was the moment I had been waiting all summer, and all year for.

As he does most years, Dave played two sets. What was unique this year were the sets had two very distinctly different tones. His first set was acoustic – just Dave and his guitar. He opened up the first five minutes with just the guitar, a Lefty Frizzell cover of Long Black Veil. Other band members slowly trickled in as the song progressed.  No one knew, at first, what song he was playing. No one cared. It was Dave. And it was enough to make you want to slide back and forth in your muddy sandals and dance. The acoustic set was smooth and energetic. When intermission time arrived, Dave said, “Change your jeans and put on your shorts, thank you so much for coming.”

The next set was electric, but it felt more like big band. The electric guitars came out, lights started flashing, and the first few chords of Granny exploded through the amphitheater. This is what Dave excels at. Filling the stage, and your hearts, with blasts of perfectly compiled sounds that don’t even need lyrics. It’s the only concert where I’ll find myself dancing with my eyes closed, not even knowing what song is being played, or if it’s even an actual song. Fans seemed to be dancing harder than before.  At this point, the rain had subsided and no one seemed to remember it had ever been raining. The only clue was the mud continuing to squish beneath your feet, as fans began to jump up and down with their arms high in the air. While Dave Matthews has an uncanny way of consuming a crowd, his band takes the concert on a whole different kind of adventure. Carter Beauford is invigorating on the drums, Jeff Coffin had a few expressive saxophone solos and Boyd Tinsley’s violin solo on Dancing Nancies nearly brought me to tears. His fingers were moving so fast my feet couldn’t even keep up. While Dave succeeds at bringing the sweet soul, his band gives the fans some extra, much-needed energy.

Dave closed another mesmerizing summer stop in West Palm with Rapunzel and Halloween. But he didn’t walk away without, once again, thanking his fans. “Thank you guys so much for tonight.” No Dave, really, thank you. Until next summer.

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