It’s safe to say the live music season is fully back up and running when Dave Matthews Band rolls into town for a sold-out show in the middle of summer. Performing for roughly three hours, DMB performed an array of hits, new tunes and old rarities for an enthusiastic crowd at Charlotte’s PNC Music Pavilion.
I left Saturday night’s show with a handful of questions in mind.
1. Have people forgotten what it’s like to be at a concert?
From the woman across the aisle from me trying to sing along to a brand-new song to the dude in front of me throwing up the sign of the horns (pinky and index finger raised) while probably meaning to put the thumb out for I love you, the crowd’s energy was high for the duration of the show, if a bit misguided at times. I also wonder if the sound tech was sleeping because Jeff Coffin’s sax was too quiet too often.
2. How long will this crowd energy last?
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being in a crowd of nearly 20,000 people as they sing along to every word of most songs. The words carried a bit more weight — probably by accident — on Saturday night when some many words reminded me of the last 18 months going through the worldwide pandemic. The band’s second song was “When the World Ends.” “You and Me” held strong emotions as the crowd belted out, “You and me, together, we can do anything.” “Space Between” was a quick reminder that there was zero social distancing in the crowd. “Tripping Billies” had the crowd dancing to “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” I’m sure there’s plenty more I missed…
3. Does Dave Matthews’ band get enough credit?
No one really talks about the rest of the band members. Carter Beauford is a beast behind the drum kit. Stefan Lessard drives grooves with the bass. Rashawn Ross is outstanding on trumpet. Jeff Coffin had moments of brilliance on the horns. The Bela Fleck and the Flecktones horn player found plenty of moments to shine. However, it seems guitarist Tim Reynolds is too often in the shadows. Reynolds often tours on his own and the next time TR3 is in town, he’s worth checking out.
4. What’s wrong with Kermit the Frog?
I often hear that people don’t like Dave Matthews because he sounds like Kermit the Frog. At times, I could hear it, but then my thought became, “Why do people hate Kermit the Frog?” It’s not easy being green.
5. What does the band say to each other?
Years ago, during an interview with Questlove of The Roots, the drummer told me about Dave and the band wearing microphones during shows so they can talk to each other and Dave is often cracking jokes. It’s not easy to miss the microphone on Matthews’ shirt or seeing the band banter between songs and crack each other up. Where’s the behind-the-scenes documentary sharing the highlights of all those conversations?
Like him or not, on a hot July night in Charlotte, Dave Matthews Band rolled into town for a sold-out concert and showed nearly 20,000 fans that live music is truly back. It remains to be seen if musicians and crowds alike can maintain the momentum going forward.
When the World Ends
Sweet Up and Down
So Much to Say
Walk Around the Moon
You & Me
You Never Know
Where Are You Going
Funny the Way It Is
Lying in the Hands of God
American Baby Intro
The Space Between
Singing From the Windows
Don’t Drink the Water
Shake Me Like a Monkey