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Dave Matthews Band, citing potential coronavirus exposure, playing Gorge shows in ‘alternate format’

Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band performs at the Railbird Music Festival on Sunday, Aug. 29, in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
By Janet I. Tu </p><p>and Michael Rietmulder Seattle Times

SEATTLE – The Dave Matthews Band will continue its longstanding tradition of playing the Gorge Amphitheatre on Labor Day weekend.

But this year, just hours before the start of its first show in a three-night stand, the band posted that, due to a potential exposure to the coronavirus, it would be using an “alternate format.”

The band did not say initially what the new format would be and confused fans heading to the Gorge for the start of the three-night run took to social media to voice their frustrations and seek answers. Like the thousands of ticketholders, Live Nation, which operates the Gorge, was also in the dark about the “alternate format” the band would perform in.

“We have absolutely no idea,” wrote Jeff Trisler, Live Nation’s Pacific Northwest president, in an email. “It’s up to the artist to perform the show that they want to perform. (We’ll all) find out together.”

A Dave Matthews Band representative did not respond to a request for comment. But based on tweets coming from those at the show, it looks like the “alternate format” involves the band performing without founding members bassist Stefan Lessard and drummer Carter Beauford. Fan-shot video showed Matthews addressing the still-accumulating crowd while introducing opening band Dumpstafunk.

“I hope you’ll bear with us tonight because due to COVID-19, Carter Beauford and Stefan Lessard are not able to be here,” Matthews said. “And so we are gonna do our best with our friends to make tonight a beautiful experience for all of you, and I only hope that it can be. But thank you, and I hope that you understand.”

Dave Matthews Band isn’t the only show to have to make last-minute changes due to COVID-19. The inaugural Day In Day Out festival, scheduled to start Saturday at Seattle Center’s Fisher Green and Pavilion, had to scramble after one of its headliners, Portland rap star Aminé, said Thursday that he would be unable to perform after contracting a breakthrough case of coronavirus. Day In Day Out brass responded quickly, adding hometown favorite Sol to Saturday’s lineup.