Labor Day weekend in Washington means that it’s time for a Dave Matthews Band overdose. Ever since 2001, the genre-jumping band has enjoyed a three-night run at the Gorge, which serves essentially as a goodbye to the summer. It’s understandable why fans can’t help but make the effort to spend a night or an entire weekend halfway between Spokane and Seattle to indulge in the sounds of DMB. Here are 10 things to know about Matthews, his music and his fans.
1. Every Dave Matthews Band show is considerably different. It’s not as if a song or two or added after a few tunes are subbed out. Each Matthews concert is its own entity. It’s easy to see why diehards travel from city to city or just venture to the Gorge for the Labor Day weekend. Matthews will often surprise with a deep cut that hasn’t been dusted off in years. His shows appeal to the dedicated and casual fans.
2. Fans get their money’s worth at DMB shows. Matthews does not bludgeon fans like some of his high-profile peers. A mid-range ticket for a night at the Gorge with Dave goes for $135. A pit ticket runs $251. Matthews’ shows clock in at just under three-hours.
3. Matthews, 55, lives in the moment. For those that loathe the generic patter, which emanates every night from touring artists, well, Matthews offers a respite from the predictable. Matthews enjoys engaging the audience and loves to live in the moment. Fresh yarns drop from Matthews on a nightly basis.
4. The frat boys who supported Matthews nearly 30 years ago are gone or have grown up.
I never received so much hate mail after writing about how annoyed I was with college kids carousing at a DMB show in 1997. I wrote that it appeared that the caps frat dudes tossed in homage onto the stage at Matthews’ shows back in the day appeared to grow back on their heads, kind of like when lizards lose their tails and the appendage returns. I have a legion of friends who vowed never to return after witnessing the silliness of those who had recently pledged. Those days are as long gone as violinist Boyd Tinsley’s time with the band.
5. Matthews won’t tolerate bad behavior. Matthews announced that the aforementioned Tinsley was fired in 2018 after he was accused of sexual misconduct. It’s a straight and narrow path for Matthews, which is welcome in an industry filled with improprieties.
6. Matthews hasn’t changed. When I first interviewed Matthews in 1996, he came across as a humble, well-intentioned singer-songwriter, who is about the music. Matthews was never trying to be a rock star, just a musician. The vibe is the same nearly 30 years later.
7. It’s been a remarkably consistent run for Matthews and company. There has never been a decline, which is remarkable over a generation. 2018’s “Come Tomorrow” is right up there with DMB’s breakthrough release, 1994’s “Under the Table and Dreaming.”
8. Matthews loves it live. RCA has released a number of stellar concert documents, 1997’s “Live at Red Rocks,” 2004’s “The Gorge” and 2011’s “Live at Wrigley Field.” Well-produced live albums are a nice alternative to bootlegs.
9. Dave is down with the farm. Matthews has been part of the Farm Aid board of directors since 2001. Matthews understands how important farmers are to our country.
10. Matthews is a Washingtonian. The South Africa native lives in Seattle and has embraced the Evergreen state. The Gorge is a hometown gig and those concerts are always special!