When we crafted this list back in December of 2010, we were very much under the impression that there would be a full year without Dave Matthews Band. For me, that’s only happened twice since the year 2000, where I saw my first show (first in 2001, because I hadn’t quite been bitten by the DMB bug just yet, and second in 2008, when we were living in LA and the show was the night LeRoi Moore passed away, and I couldn’t bring myself to go to the Staples Center). But the band announced in 2010 that they would be taking the entire year of 2011 off from touring, and as a result, we tried to squeeze in as many shows as possible on the 2010 tour.
And also, with the lack of shows in mind, we decided to do a few DMB-related Achievements to keep the spirit alive in 2011. One was the Dave Matthews movie night (an entry which is coming soon), and the other which is this one: to participate in 3 DMB-Inspired Things.
Well, imagine our surprise when an announcement was made that despite a lack of a formal summer tour, there would be four DMB weekend festivals throughout the summer of 2011! And as the fates continued to shine down on us, we realized that the Atlantic City festival weekend was my weekend off from work, so we could actually go!
There were signs all through the city for the event. We were fortunate enough to get one of the discounted rooms offered through Warehouse (the DMB fan club), so we checked into the Atlantic City Hilton and got ready for the first day of shows!
It was a little over a mile’s walk from our hotel to the venue, Bader Field. From what we could tell, Bader Field was once an airport, and is now a dustbowl. This is a true and gross story: you could tell how long people had been at the event each day by how dirty their feet and legs were. Yuck! And the winds were overwhelming. Each night, after the show ended, all of us had to shower and use eye drops and take allergy medicine just to feel normal again before we could go out and explore AC (because let’s face it, the adrenaline rush from a Dave show + a city that never sleeps = late nights!).
There were three nights of shows, with DMB playing a full-length set to close out each night. (You can read about the other bands we got to see in our post here.)
Night one was an interesting warmup for the weekend. They played a lot of covers that we don’t normally hear, including one fun one called “Bueno” by the band Morphine, and also “Good Times Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin.
Some of my other favorite parts of the night were “Crash Into Me” (because I never get tired of that song, even after the 4000th play), a slowed-down “Cornbread,” some sexy “Seven,” and “Shake Me Like a Monkey.”
For the encore, Dave came out solo and played a beautiful “Whiter Shade of Pale,” and then the band came in for what we like to call The Fox Exacta, “Stay or Leave” and “Grey Street,” which are two of my theme songs.
That night, we were rather exhausted, and while the set was a lot of fun, it had us asking so many questions. Was this an indication that there wouldn’t be repeats throughout the weekend? How thrilled was I, then, that they got “Monkeylite” (which is a combination of two songs not on my favorites list, “Satellite” and “Proudest Monkey”) and “Jimi Thing” (a fun song that has unfortunately been stretching on a bit too long these days, and that we’ve seen about 8 billion times in recent years) out of the way early? And what other covers would we hear?
The next day, we were back at Bader Field early to take in Dave and Tim’s set, which was so very cool. They play acoustic versions of the DMB songs together, and tell stories, and it’s just a neat, different experience each time.
We also made good use of the Brita Water Stations with our fancy Warehouse water bottles – those were free with our tickets! (Mine has totally come in handy, as they are wicked sturdy and perfect for the gym.) Instead of spending money on bottled water and creating waste, each of the Caravan festivals had water stations throughout the grounds where you could refill for free as often as you needed! That’s our dear friend Jon in the picture, who you will remember as my DMB partner-in-crime for the past decade. 🙂
We also got to do some wine and beer tasting! There were so many neat things at the Caravan, and one of them was this sampling station. Our favorite was the Project Paso wine (which we later got a bottle of for Hulk Hogan movie night).
On Night 2, we landed in the best dancing patch I could have ever asked for, and it was perfect timing: this was the night for dancing! “Crush” started the dance mood off, then we had some “Alligator Pie” in there, and “The Idea of You” which was soooooo insanely exciting for me (I love that song!). Another highlight of the evening was the inclusion of Vusi Mahlasela on “Every Day” – he’s the guy who sang on the album version of the song! A “Stay” closer and a “Two-Step” encore capped off the dancing night perfectly.
And best of all? Not a single repeat from the previous night… which meant we were doing a lot of mathematical calculations and prediction-making for what N3 (that’s ‘Night 3’ in DMB show speak 😉 would bring!
One of the neat things about this trip was the fact that it wasn’t just a Dave show, it was a vacation somewhere we’d never been before. So, we tried to make the most of it and did some wandering around, like checking out this pier.
We also stopped into this cute store where they were selling, you guessed it, CORNBREAD! I’m all about the DMB references 🙂 (Oh, and another DMB reference, please excuse my ‘purple sunburn’ – there was a Dave story about bad sunburns during Dave and Tim’s set. The heat wasn’t bad, but the sun was brutal in the Dust Bowl!)
We also got to check out some of the different casinos, even though I didn’t spend any money on gambling (I suck at everything except horses and dogs, because horses you can actually figure out, and dogs just love me and like to win for me). The Tropicana is like its own little city (that’s also where the Hooters was, believe it or not).
This picture is of what I call ‘the moment’. This refers to that moment when the band is finally on stage in front of you, the set break music has been killed, and you’re waiting… wondering… if you’re us, trying to guess based on the equipment on stage (Jon is the best at this, for the record – he can call a song from a guitar and sax combination like no other!). This is the final moment before you know what the first song of the evening is going to be…
And in our case, that first song was one of the finest that it could have possibly been: “Seek Up.” This is one of those rare gems of a DMB song that you only hear once in a random while (I had just gotten my first one after almost 20 shows back in Buffalo in November 2010), but the song is so magnificent and other-worldly that every time, you know it was worth the wait. Incredible instrumentation, beautiful lyrics. Just musical perfection.
Things continued rocking from there. We got a little “Warehouse,” some old-school “What Would You Say,” and then, surely because my husband requested it, they brought back “Kill the King” (which we hadn’t heard since Michael’s first show back in 2006).
We also got another rare song with “One Sweet World,” which has one of the most lovely horn parts around (that’s Rashawn and Jeff, the horn section). The hits continued with “Granny” (looooooove the way the crowd gets into that), and another one I haven’t seen before, “Dive In,” which is sad and beautiful.
There’s a song combo that often comes up together of “So Much to Say” and “Too Much.” These two songs are commonly connected by an interlude known as “Anyone Seen the Bridge.” However, in years past, we’ve seen all sorts of crazy changes, like “ASTB” into “Rapunzel,” and I’ve even seen it on setlists going into “Grey Street,” although I haven’t gotten to see that one live (yet). Well, this time, the band pulled out all the stops and launched instead of “Anyone Seen the Bridge” into…. “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith. Oh yes. We now refer to this as “Anyone Seen the Sweet Emotion.”
The set closed with “Watchtower,” which is DMB’s fantastic cover of the classic Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix song. You know it’s coming because the Stefan bass solo begins, and by the time the lyrics get to “All along the watchtower,” the entire crowd is singing and dancing their butts off. I was so excited – it felt like ages since I’d last seen a “Watchtower” live (and truly it was: before this night, the last show I’d seen it was the Boston show in 2005 when I was living out there – and yes, Jon flew out to see it with me!).
And then, the moment we had all been waiting for: the final encore of the final night. What would this magical event bring? I know the three of us were counting the songs we’d seen and not seen all weekend, hoping for certain favorites. Dave started solo with “Some Devil,” and then, as the band assembled around him, Carter teased the drum beat from “Ants Marching.” We all love that song, don’t get me wrong, but I think each and every one of us in the crowd was hoping for something else, too… and so the chants went up on all sides for “Halloween.”
“Halloween” is one of the most coveted DMB songs, because it’s such a rarity. It’s the final song in the Julia Grey saga (the girl who repeatedly broke Dave’s heart over the years), and it is probably the best breakup song ever written. I heard my first at the Buffalo show in 2010 (looooong story involving missing a “Halloween” because of my brother-in-law’s wedding – I finally called and told him he was forgiven after the Buffalo show hehe), and this night marked my second. The crowd was sooooo into it (obviously, after our request was granted), and it was just an amazing time.
The only thing that made it more perfect was this mass of humanity walking back to our hotels, carrying on the final song of the night. You weren’t allowed to drive in to the venue, so each night after DMB’s set, we would walk (in this huge group) and basically take over the streets and sidewalks of Atlantic City until we reached our hotels. And on Sunday night, each and every one of us was singing.
If ever I doubted the feeling of community at Dave shows, it was apparent in those moments. It is amazing when a concert does more than just entertain, when it makes you feel like a part of a bigger thing. This has always been something I’ve loved about Dave shows, and I am so grateful that we got to attend the DMB Caravan in Atlantic City and get that refreshing feeling that only a Dave show can bring!
The only question remaining now is… where are we going in 2012? 🙂