After a short break, I was back in DMB mode this past week. We saw four shows in five days – 3 in New York (SPAC and Jones Beach) and 1 in New Jersey (Holmdel).
I have seen the band before at both Jones Beach and Holmdel, but SPAC was a new experience for me. The venues – and the shows – were all very different. The crowds were different. The atmosphere was different. And, the set lists were different.
In addition, over the past few days Dave Matthews has done a few interviews where he has explicitly addressed the departure of original band member and violinist Boyd Tinsley. In my opinion, the interviews have been very enlightening and give a lot of insight into the new energy the band seems to have on stage.
This second leg featured a show that is one of my favorites, a show that was a little disappointing, three big tailgate parties (including one in a monsoon), and taking a detour through Manhattan.
Keep reading to find out more about the second leg of my summer tour!
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ABOUT THE BAND
If you aren’t familiar with Dave Matthews Band, you can read more about their history in my article about my first set of shows. Click here to read more:
As I mentioned above, Matthews has done a couple of interviews recently, where he specifically talks about Boyd Tinsley’s departure from the band. Matthews shared that he felt that Tinsley was not focused on the band, and wasn’t giving 100% of himself to the band when Matthews needed him to be. While Matthews stated that he doesn’t mind any of the band members doing side projects, he said that he needs them to be completely focused on DMB when the band is working. Tinsley was not able to do that, which is why he had to depart from the band.
Matthews also spoke about the addition of keyboardist Buddy Strong. He is clearly bringing a new energy to the band. In fact, in one interview Matthews states that the band is playing with a level of energy that they have not had for a long time.
Hearing these interviews really confirms what everyone can easily see on stage. DMB is energized. They are having fun again. There is a level of energy at the shows that hasn’t been there in a long time!
DMB SHOW #4 – JULY 13TH – SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (SPAC) – SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – N1
If it’s a Friday the 13th show, you can guarantee that DMB fans are going to be hoping for the band to play “Halloween”. The song hasn’t been played yet this tour, and the combination of the venue (SPAC usually gets really good shows) and the date seemed to scream for the song to be included in the set list. But Dave rarely falls into clichés like that, which meant “Halloween” was not to be on this particular night.
This was my first trip to SPAC. The venue was on our bucket lists of places to see shows. The week before, DMB did a two night run at Deer Creek, which tends to be the big Midwest set of shows. There were some great set lists at Deer Creek. That led to a lot of chatter on the fan Facebook pages about which venue would get the better weekend – Deer Creek or SPAC.
Personally, I think set lists are very subjective. There is no way to logically or analytically say which set list is better. They are all unique, and every fan has different tastes.
In looking at the set list for N1 as a whole, there were a lot of things that made a lot of loyal DMB fans happy. The set list included songs like “Raven” and “Captain”, which are not played very often and are not songs that a lot of people outside of the really dedicated fan base are familiar with.
The set also featured the tour debut of one of my personal favorites – “Minarets”. I also found the encore to be one of my favorites of the tour so far. It started with Dave doing “Some Devil” solo. Then the whole band came back on stage to play “Pig”, which is a song that a lot of fans chase. While that could have closed the show (and turned out to be an addition to the written set list), the crowd got a bonus with DMB closing the set with “Don’t Drink the Water”. The song is so high energy, I’m surprised they don’t use it as a closer more often.
I thought the star of the show N1 was Jeff Coffin. He was on fire throughout the set, which included him being featured on a 20 minute plus version of “Seek Up”.
In general, I thought SPAC N1 was a good show. I also really enjoyed the venue, although our seats were under the balcony and I felt it distorted the audio. At this particular venue, having any seat at all is better than being on the lawn (which is jam packed with virtually no line of sight to the stage).
Set List (click on any link to purchase the song directly on Amazon): Come Tomorrow, Raven, Stay Or Leave, Grey Street, Grace Is Gone, That Girl Is You, Warehouse, Captain, Minarets, Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin), Why I Am, Seek Up, Can’t Stop, What Would You Say, Time Bomb, Idea Of You, Funny The Way It Is, Ants Marching Encore: Some Devil, Pig, Don’t Drink the Water
DMB SHOW #5 – JULY 14TH – SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (SPAC) – SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – N2
So, one of the unwritten rules of seeing DMB is never miss a N2. While the general consensus of most of the DMB fan community was that N1 was a better set list than N2, I have to disagree. In fact, this show was probably one of my favorite of the tour.
The show kicked off with a song off the new album – “Again and Again” – which had Dave appear on stage without a guitar, which seems very odd for fans to see. The crowd then got a huge surprise – “JTR”. The song is a fan favorite and hadn’t been played in years. The lyrics in the chorus of the song are “Rain, rain, rain down on me, again, and again, rain down on me”, which leads to it being requested by the fans at every show where it rains. Of course, I’ve been to multiple shows where it rained, and never got the song. There was no rain during this show, and Dave decided to dust it off and play it.
The show also featured a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”, which is always a favorite of mine.
For this show, we again had seats that were under the balcony. Our seats were on the stage right side, where the night before they were on the stage left side. Towards the end of the show, a lot of people started leaving, so we were able to walk a bit further towards the front to get a better view for the encore. I’m so glad we did! The difference in the sound was very noticeable, so we got to hear the encore songs much better.
And what an encore it was! It started out quiet with Dave singing “Sister”, which is a very sweet little song. It didn’t stay quiet for long, as DMB closed with “Two Step”. The song featured some incredible work on the drums by Carter Beauford.
One of my favorite moments of the night, was when Dave walked to the side of the stage by the security guy, grabbed a chair, and just sat down. He had a look of pure pride and joy on his face. It was like…. “Wow! I created this and these guys are amazing”. It epitomized what this band is about – just playing good music and having a good time.
Set List (click on any link to purchase the song directly on Amazon): Again and Again, JTR, Big Eyed Fish, Lover Lay Down, Satellite, Come On Come On, Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel cover), Louisiana Bayou, Here On Out, Crash Into Me, Bartender, Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin), Shake Me Like a Monkey, #41, Do You Remember, Steady As We Go, Jimi Thing, Sexy M.F. (Prince cover), She, Pantala Naga Pampa, Rapunzel Encore: Sister (with #40 tease intro), Two Step
DMB SHOW #6 – JULY 17TH – NORTHWELL HEALTH AT JONES BEACH THEATER – WANTAGH, NY
It always rains at a Jones Beach show. I’ve been to two shows there, and it’s rained both times. We didn’t attend the Dave & Tim show there last year, but it rained for that show as well.
We arrived at the venue around 2:30 p.m. with the intention of setting up a little tailgate party. After attempting to put up our big canopy and having it almost blow away, we settled for just setting up a couple of tables and a smaller canopy. No sooner did we get it all set up, then they sky started turning black, and it was clear that a storm was rolling in.
We were able to take everything down and put it all back in the car (including ourselves) before the storm came. Then we just sat and waited. It rained and rained. The parking lot looked like a small creek in places. The rain just wouldn’t let up.
But, the weather gods finally took pity on us, and the skies cleared (and showcased a beautiful rainbow) just before show time.
Our first experience at Jones Beach two years ago was in the pit. This time we had seats, and I was actually very happy with our view. After being to two really high energy shows at SPAC, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in the crowd. There were some empty seats and a lot of people sitting down for most of the show. While the band still had a ton of energy, the crowd seemed low key.
The show started off strong with DMB opening with “JTR” (see my notes above how it’s the song everyone wants to hear when it rains during a show). Even though the crowd wasn’t high energy, the set list was geared that way, including songs early in the set list like “Don’t Drink the Water”, “Seven”, and “Louisiana Bayou”. DMB even played “Pantala Naga Pampa” into “Rapunzel” about midway into the set, which is unusual. It’s typically played as the closer of the main set or an encore.
I was quite pleased to have “Granny” and then “Ants Marching” played to close out the main set. Those are two of my favorites, and it was the first time I had heard “Granny” this tour. It was one of the songs I had on my wish list.
The encore featured a great version of “Digging a Ditch”, and the show closed with “Stay”. I know a lot of DMB fans are not big fans of the Lovely Ladies, but “Stay” is one song where I think their background vocals are key. I was pleasantly surprised to see that without the Lovely Ladies, they featured Buddy Strong on the background vocals. I thought he did a fantastic job and seemed to be having a great time.
So, I thought this was a good set list, but it wasn’t my favorite show of the tour. It might have been because of the mood being set due to the rain. Or maybe it was just the energy of the crowd. The good news is that I had a chance to do it all over again the next day.
Set List (click on any link to purchase the song directly on Amazon): JTR, Again and Again, Don’t Drink the Water, One Sweet World, Seven, Louisiana Bayou, Can’t Stop, Hunger For the Great Light, Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin), Pantala Naga Pampa, Rapunzel, You & Me, She, Jimi Thing, Come On Come On, Rhyme & Reason, What Would You Say, Here On Out, Funny The Way It Is, Granny, Ants Marching Encore: Digging A Ditch, Stay (Wasting Time)
DMB SHOW #7 – PNC BANK ARTS CENTER – HOLMDEL, NJ
After thinking we were giving ourselves plenty of time to get from Long Island to Holmdel, our GPS decided to take us on a route through the middle of Manhattan and through the Holland Tunnel. So by the time we arrived at the venue to throw yet another big tailgate party, we were already worn out.
But, unlike the day before, the weather was beautiful and the tailgate was a success. It was so successful, that by the time everyone left and we cleaned up, we got into the venue late and missed the first couple of songs (I did get to hear the full sound check earlier in the day, so that made up for it).
Our seats were in the very last row of the seated area in front of the lawn. While I was further back than I would like, I loved the fact that we were able to hang out in the aisleway behind our seats and have plenty of room for dancing. And we did a lot of dancing!
This set list also included a couple of surprises. Like the day before, they played a song early in the set that they traditionally close with – “All Along the Watchtower”. It was a really good version of it as well.
The set really got going for me starting with “Warehouse” followed by “Time Bomb” and then “Can’t Stop”. I had seen some rumors floating around that we were getting a special guest that night, and sure enough, Dave introduced Robert Randolph who joined them on stage for “Cornbread”. It was one of the best versions of that song I’ve seen!
DMB wrapped up the main set with “Why I Am” and “Tripping Billies”. Although it was close to 11 p.m. (which is the venue’s curfew), I think everyone was hoping for a big encore, since they started a bit later than usual. Instead, we only got one song – “Grey Street”. The written set lists that were circulating after the show listed 4 potentials songs for the encore, so they clearly just ran out of time.
Set List (click on any link to purchase the song directly on Amazon): Do You Remember, Lover Lay Down, Pig, Satellite, Come Tomorrow, #41, Raven, All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover), That Girl Is You, Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin), The Song That Jane Likes, Lying In the Hands of God, Warehouse, Time Bomb, Can’t Stop, Corn Bread (with Robert Randolph), The Space Between, Why I Am, Tripping Billies Encore: Grey Street
So that’s a wrap on the second leg of my DMB summer tour. Only one leg to go, but it’s a big one – Bend and The Gorge! Not only will I be writing about the shows, but I’ll be writing about our entire “Davecation”. We’ll be starting in Seattle, heading to Portland, stopping in Bend and Hood River, and ending in the Gorge before flying back out of Seattle. I’ll have a blog post with lots of tips and tricks that I learn from my visit, so be sure to stay tuned!
Are you a DMB fan? What do you think of the new album? Have you caught them on tour yet this summer? Do the boys have their mojo back? Let us know what you think by commenting below or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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