With nine studio albums under its belt, Dave Matthews Band can mix and match songs to make a new setlist practically every night of its tour.
Just a few days ago, for example, the full band added “Spoon,” from 1998’s “Before These Crowded Streets,” to the setlist for the first time in five years, according to JamBase.
But in reality, the band could perform the same show night after night, and fans would likely still pack venues around the world to see the band, which formed in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1991.
Case in point: Fans have been traveling in droves to see the band at the Gorge Amphitheatre during its annual Labor Day weekend shows since the tradition began in 1996.
The band took a break from the road in 2017 but returned last year. This weekend’s run of shows brings the band’s Gorge concert count to more than 60, according to a news release.
No matter what deep cuts the band decides to add to at the Gorge, the focus, as it was last year, will likely primarily be on “Come Tomorrow,” its first album since 2012’s “Away From the World.”
The band recorded the album, which was released in June 2018, in studios in Seattle, Los Angeles and Charlottesville, with producers John Alagia, Mark Batson, Rob Cavallo and Rob Evans.
Though most of the tracks are new, a few, “Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin),” “Can’t Stop” and “Idea of You,” have been in rotation for more than a decade. The band also has performed a longer version of the 27-second “bkdkdkdd” live under the name “Be Yourself.”
“It’s louder, it’s softer,” Matthews told iHeartRadio’s Nicole Mastrogiannis last June while describing the album. “I don’t know if I’ve finished an album and feel, in me, so good about it … I don’t think I’ve felt this right about an album just because I feel like I did something.”
While the album includes moments both dark and light, Matthews said “Come Tomorrow,” overall, is about love. “It’s a love of the future, it’s a love of hope, it’s a love of family, it’s a love of the planet, it’s a love of lust, it’s a love of attraction,” he told Mastrogiannis.
“It’s a lot of loves on it. But it comes from love because some of the songs are really sad. (There are) songs about loss, as well, and about death, but that’s all love, too. It’s all love.”
Fans also can look forward to a cover or two during this three-show run.
Last year’s Labor Day weekend concert found the band – drummer Carter Beauford, saxophonist Jeff Coffin, bassist Stefan Lessard, singer/guitarist Matthews, guitarist Tim Reynolds, trumpeter Rashawn Ross and keyboardist Buddy Strong – putting its twist on songs by Peter Gabriel, the Zombies, Prince, Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan.
Even after more than 60 concerts at the Gorge, it’s clear neither the band nor the fans have grown tired of the Labor Day weekend tradition. “There’s no place like it in the world,” Matthews said about the venue in “Enormous: The Gorge Story.”
Matthews spoke more about the band’s time at the Gorge in a 2012 interview. He said he couldn’t think of a reason to stay in a hotel when surrounded by the beauty of the Columbia River and admitted that the venue overshadowed the concert itself.
“Playing at the Gorge, I don’t know why, I’m always intimidated here,” Matthews said. “I don’t know if it’s so beautiful and I feel like I’m making a racket in a place that should be quiet.”
In July, the band announced the full lineup for the Labor Day weekend shows. Hurray for the Riff Raff will open all three nights, Gov’t Mule will perform Friday and Saturday, and Lettuce will take the stage Friday.
Fans unable to make it to the Gorge can listen to Friday’s performance live through SiriusXM’s Dave Matthews Band Radio (Channel 30).
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