…or, Why I love the Dave Matthews Band, part 1 (cause you know I’ve got “So Much To Say” (yepppp…. couldn’t resist. Ba-da-boom.))
I love the Dave Matthews Band. Desperately, completely, obsessively. I’ve mentioned this love briefly a few times around these parts, but never to any depth. I wanted to write about this love because it’s one I frequently have to defend, and folks are always baffled, shocked, and stunned by the things I tell them. I feel like I owe it to the band (who gets random hate, needlessly, from idiots who have no idea what the fuck they’re on about), and to anyone who wants to take the time to read this, as I believe it’s my duty to spread the gospel of truth about this group of insanely talented men, who are truly one of the greatest live musical acts to ever grace humanity with their existence. I promise you, you have no idea.
First, the facts about me:
- Intense fandom started approximately 10 years ago
- I’ve seen the band in concert 30 times
- I’ve traveled around the country to see them perform
- Most times I’ve seen them live in a calendar year: 9 times
Within the past few weeks, the fires of this burning love have been rekindled, after smoldering dormantly for a couple of years (due to a smaller tour in 2011 that I was unable to attend, and seeing only 1 show in 2010). This is of course after said fires burned bright and intensely for about 10 years. Getting to see them live again this summer, more than once, has all the feeling coming back to my DMB limb.
To be a truly devoted (i.e. insane) DMB fan is to leave all reason behind, empty your bank account, and acquire the eye-rolling/raising of all those dear to you. It’s also to enter a sub-culture of people who love this band, this sound, this experience, this BEING that is the Dave Matthews Band, more than is healthy, and certainly more than most people love music. We love them like the oldest, dearest friend. Someone you’d literally do anything for, and many of us have.
The story of how I discovered them is fairly basic: I was aware of their existence all throughout my sad high school experience, but only knew the radio hits and that they were a “jam band” who all the druggie/drunk kids went to see. I neither liked, nor disliked. They were a group who I heard on the radio occasionally, end of story. Towards the end of my illustrious college career I stumbled upon my roomie’s old copy of “Crash” (which contains the more popular radio tracks “Crash Into Me”, “Too Much,” “So Much to Say,” “Lie in Our Graves”). I don’t know why exactly I put it on, I think to listen to “hike up your skirt a little more”, and was caught by the opening notes of “Two Step” — a song I’d never heard in my life (despite the fact that it was supposedly a radio single; not in any markets I was ever exposed to), but one that is adored by fans, epic as all hell when performed live, and in most people’s top 5 favorite songs. If you’ve never heard it, click on that link. I defy the opening NOT to hook you. I kept on listening, and when “#41” began (which was to become one of my all-time favorites), I was basically like, WHAT IS ALL THIS MAGIC.
And so began my DMB journey.
Said roomie bought the album “Everyday” which we listened to at work everyday (pun intended) and grew to love (even though this one has fostered a lot of loathing, I always enjoyed it). Once college ended and I had a couple of months with no job, hanging out with friends and basically just having lots of free time, I started the exploration. And little did I know, how much there was to uncover. I had no IDEA the quantity of music these guys have created. And not just that, but the evolution most songs go through. For every song you love, you will undoubtedly have a favorite version, as almost all of their music grows and changes once it’s been played live for a year or so. “Two Step” live is very different from “Two Step” studio. And that’s almost par for the course. The track “You Might Die Trying” from the 2005 release “Stand Up” was, in my opinion, solid, but as it’s been played over the last 7 years, it has grown into something that has the most epic, 4- or 5-minute outro you can imagine, and it gives me chills every time. And none of that is even hinted at on the studio cut. It’s because each song is basically alive, transforming with time as they are played and experimented with.
I felt like I had stumbled upon a treasure chest where I kept discovering more and more awesomeness, stuff I didn’t know anybody did, or that even existed. Did you know that this band basically plays an entirely different setlist each night?? That if you go to a back-to-back show (as most of us do), you’re almost guaranteed to hear only 1 or 2 repeats, and most likely, NONE? Do you know how DIFFICULT that is?! To be able to play at least 50+ songs, any given night? As far as I know, musical acts usually stick to the same set each night for any given tour – a few exceptions here or there, but it’s a basic blueprint. Not DMB. And the catalog they have to choose from is IMMENSE. 7 studio albums containing 85 tracks, several side project albums, over 30 live releases (with more coming out constantly), well over 100 covers, and then you have all the songs that have been performed live but never recorded in studio (around 50). The list goes on.
Just have a look.
…to be continued.