Tag Archives: dave matthews band

Weekend at the Gorge Pt. 3.1

…Cont.
Part 3.1: Heaven’s Amphitheater 
(Yeah, yeah, yeah…. this is late. Like real late. Far later than it should be, for sure… On top of that, it was getting so long winded that I’m going to pull a Mocking Jay and split the last bit into two parts. Hate me if you want! <I’m talking to you, Annie!> That’s the biggest conflicting benefit of not having a deadline, however; the stress isn’t there, but neither is the impetus…)

<Refresh on Parts 1&2

Click here to read Part 1

Click here to read Part 2>
…Cont…

   I was awakened the next morning at about 8 by a cackling laugh from a few campsites over. As quickly as I cursed them, I chastised myself. I’d put money on that we were just as annoying the night before to people who were trying to sleep.       

   Stepping outside of the tent and seeing the grounds in the daylight was a whole new experience. There was a general hustle and bustle that was about the camp, even at such an early hour, that let you know there was going to be a Dmb show that night. People were already milling about, cooking themselves breakfast, playing tailgate games, many even drinking morning beers. 

   The smell of bacon overrode my initial plan to have the fruit that I had brought for breakfast, so I walked up to the vendor village that had been set up between our grounds and Gen Pop. The vendor village had a bit of everything, a burger tent, one that had pizza, another with dumplings… In addition to food there was also various tents selling a smattering of wares; sunglasses, clothes, basic electronics, and such. I found a place that was selling the best breakfast crepes that I’ve ever seen outside of New York City. Happy with my discovery and with crepe in hand, I made my way back to home base. 

   We spent the day hanging out with our new neighbor friends. We cooked, ate, drank, played cornhole, and swapped enough stories to make Aesop jealous.

   I decided to go into the venue before everyone else because I wanted to get a lay of the land and scope it out for best vantage points, plus I wanted to check out the openers to see if I felt they were worth checking out all 3 days. 

   The walk from premier camping to the venue was a solid 15 minutes, again making me question the venue’s use of the word ‘premier’ in referring to our campgrounds. I arrived and made my way through security, then followed another main path from the entrance to the top of the lawn of the venue. 

   There aren’t really words that can correct express the feelings of seeing the amphitheater for the first time. As you crest the hill and the stage and it’s backdrop come into view, it feels as if you’re looking at a painting. (As a matter of fact, I saw an artist at the top of the hill painting the landscape all weekend). If you have ever been to the Grand Canyon, I kind of compare it to the feelings that seeing that for the first time evokes. 

   After meandering through the venue a bit, I decided to hit the merch booth and get one of the venue specific event tees and some other stuff. The line, as always was super long, but I just wanted to get it of the way so I didn’t have to think about it the rest of the weekend. 

   The biggest surprise for me was the rabid fervor over the limited edition show posters. Each show, the merch booths collectively sell about 1,500 numbered prints of a poster made specifically for that night; also available was a whole weekend poster. People were lining up for when the gates opened each day of the weekend to try to secure a copy of that day’s $50 collectable. They invariably sold out pretty early in the day, so it wasn’t uncommon to overhear people trying to buy the posters off of people who had been lucky enough to get one…. for two or even three times their original price. 

   By the time I waited out the line and got my stuff the first opener, a band called The Lone Bellow had taken stage. The band was a folk based Americana act, but they honestly skewed a bit too much towards country music to hold my attention. Even though I was trying to maintain an objective attitude because I knew I was going to be writing this, my brain automatically regulated the music to background noise. 

   Annie and Matty Ice texted that they were on their way in, so I made my way back to meet them on the main entrance path. Somehow, I found them among the cascading river of people that were now flooding into the venue. Seeing the look of awe on their faces as they summited the hill was worth the early solo trip in. 

   After giving them the grand tour, (that hour and a half that I was in by myself clearly made me a Gorge expert!), we made our way to the front of the lawn on stage right, where Matty Ice had hometown friends. They were sitting next to a large pole, on top of which was a huge speaker. Because the pole obstructed view of the stage, it created a natural pathway for people to be coming up and down the lawn. This also meant that a steady stream of inebriated concert goers would be sauntering by like aimless cattle on their way to a watering hole. 

   For the most part, the evening went well. Opening with The Best of What’s Around into one of my favorites, Big Eyed Fish, was epic, but going into my friend Kelly’s favorite, Satellite, well, that just made it all too special. 

   The rest of night one galloped along at a breakneck pace, even the 20 minute jam out of Seek Up not weighing down the flow. 

   Somewhere towards the beginning of the set a kid who was clearly heavily under the influence of some sort of psychotropic drug came literally crawling through the crowd, almost squishing Matty Ice’s friend and her child that sitting on the ground in the middle of our people circle. Matty Ice spotted the danger before any of us, and quickly Don Corleone’d the situation, snuffing the impending crisis in the bud. 

  The only other extraneous excitement for the evening came when one of our camping neighbors texted that he ‘needed help finding himself’, as the full day’s worth of whiskey had gotten the best of him. Annie stepped into the role of ‘show mom’ and retrieved our wayward brother, and soon we were all back together, dancing like fools. 

   Besides Denver, all the DMB shows that I had been to had been east coast shows. I’m not sure if being in a different region was a factor, or maybe it was the fact that many of the people in the crowd had spent the day traveling, but there was a marked difference in the temperament of the crowd. The east coast shows that I had been to, especially at my home venue of SPAC, have what I can best describe as a rabid feel to them. The crowd sings every lyric and dances to every note, creating a palpable vibe unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The crowd at The Gorge was different. From my mid-lawn vantage things felt muted. I saw many people sitting, many standing in what felt a stoic fashion, and very few people were singing along. I made a mental note to see how the rest of the weekend’s vibe was. 

  The rest of the evening played out, coming to crescendo with a killer All Along the Watchtower. As quickly as the evening had progressed, it was over. Not wasting any time, we made our way along the path back to our camp. We hung out enough to have a few drinks, and then crawled into our tents, slipping into the sweet oblivion of sleep. 

   

Weekend at the Gorge 2016 pt.1

   After a few drafts of this blog post, and seeing it grow longer with each revision, I came to the decision to keep with The Gorge tradition and break it up into 3 separate posts over 3 separate nights. I promise, it all makes sense in the end. Or the beginning… Or maybe it won’t. Who knows…

Pt. 1: Prologue 
   It was the summer of 2004. I was freshly 21, single, and more than ready to mingle. 

   Dating was something that never came easy for me; despite my best efforts with women I usually found myself in that awkward space between romance and the friend zone that I often referred to as ‘dating purgatory’. Living in a small New England town of about 6,000, dating was already a difficult endeavor, as everyone already knew each other’s history, to the Norman Rockwell detail. 

   At that time in my life I discovered two things: 1) it was extremely easy to cross this magical, undefined, and ever changing line of what was considered appropriate conduct as regards to where these ‘relationships’ stood at any given moment, and 2) when said line was crossed, women got extremely pissed off. 

   One such confusing incident happened that summer at the fabled Green River in my Western Massachusetts hometown. This girl that I had been spending a considerable amount of time with, we’ll call her Jane, and I took a picnic down to the river. It was a perfect Berkshire day; we ate, drank, swam, and took a nap in the sunshine. I awoke to Jane using my chest as a pillow. All seemed good in the world. 

   At that moment a group of our friends showed up, which woke Jane from her slumber. They obviously assumed that things had progressed beyond where they actually had, which for some reason greatly angered Jane (I later found out that it was because she had a big unrequited thing for one of our friends that had shown up).

   After that day Jane refused to even talk to me. Not knowing what was going on in her head at the time left me at quite a loss. I absolutely hate having unfinished business in my life, but I could see no rhyme or reason as to why she was acting the way she was. So, I did what every rational guy in 2004 would do: I went to our local record store and bought her a cd. 

   One of the things that had originally connected Jane and I was my newly found love of the Dave Matthews Band, so I picked up their freshly released live album that had been recorded at The Gorge, wrote a little note blanketly apologizing for whatever it was that may have upset her, and delivered it to her at work. This apparently helped, because while nothing ever happened between us, we are still good friends to this day. 

   The one thing that I got out of it all, and the reason for that story, was that buying that album introduced me to Heaven’s Amphitheater, The Gorge, and set me on a mission to someday make the trek to Washington state for what had been dubbed ‘LaborDave Weekend’ by the fans; a 4 day event of camping and concerts that ended the Dave Matthews Band Summer Tour every year. 

   As it does, life got in the way. Every year it seemed there was some new excuse as to why I couldn’t make the pilgrimage to the west coast. 

   Fast forward 12 years. Dave Matthews Band announces that they are taking the year after their 25th anniversary tour off from the road, and I’m in Denver, which is literally 8 hours to the closest venue of the tour. My summer schedule was so jam packed between work and a travel wedding, that I wasn’t going to be able to take time off to make the trip to any of the midsummer shows that I wanted to. If there was ever a year that I wanted a trip to The Gorge to work out, this was it! I set myself to work on every angle I could think of. I was set to try my damnedest to make this trip work out!

——TBC——

Album Review: Recently

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When a band is first starting out it isn’t uncommon for them to re-release certain songs across multiple releases. This is true of the title track on Dave Matthews Band’s second release, “Recently”.

This EP is another series of live recordings, these ones all done in the bands home state of Virginia. The title track, is a reedit of the same song that was released 6 months earlier on the bands debut, “Remember Two Things”.

Back when we all still relied on physical copies of discs to play our music, “Recently” was one of the few albums that my friend Nate had on the job site, so it was played often. Those CDs were played so frequently that they were literally ‘played to death’, and often had to be replaced. I’m pretty sure that “Recently” may have been repurchased a few times over the course of those jobs… (Luckily, soon after, we discovered the CD-R!)

One of the tracks on the EP is a cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, which was made famous by both him and Jimi Hendricks. I’ll accept any flaming that y’all have to offer when I say that I like DMB’s version better by a mile. From the slowed down intro verse, to the final crescendo, it’s a much more layered song than either Dylan’s or Hendricks’s. It’s actually one of the tracks that got my friend Nate hooked on the band.

The second and third songs on the album are again acoustic Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds songs, another sneak peak of the official Dave and Tim live releases that have put an awesome stripped down flavor on the catalogue.¬†Also, on this EP is the first official release of what is my personal favorite DMB song, Halloween. Halloween is a fairly atypical DMB song. It’s very guttural, dark, and full of angst. It was written about one of Dave’s ex-girlfriends, who he had repeatedly asked to marry him, but she kept refusing. Halloween was written as the middle finger to her face.

Since the first DMB show that I went to in 2005, I’ve gone to multiple shows every year since, except for the year the band took off from touring. In all those shows it wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that I finally was at a show where they played Halloween. Once I realized what they were playing, it all came right back to hearing it for the first time while 25′ in the air on a ladder painting the trim boards on a house in rural Western Massachusetts. While I will probably deny it, my friend Tif who was at that show with me says I screamed like a girl at a Taylor Swift concert.

The importance of the “Recently” EP in the band’s discography cannot be denied, as it led to the record deal that helped catapult the Dave Matthews Band in to the public’s eye, which in turn was the stepping stone for launching a successful multi-decade long career.

Daily Dose of Dave

3/18/14
American Baby
Weekend on the Rocks

There’s those thought mazes that, when you take the time to analyze them, just make absolutely no sense at all. What I mean by a thought maze is, the journey that our brain takes from point A to point B to arrive at a thought.
For example, today I was talking to a friend who retold a joke that I had heard a while back. My thought process took me back to when I first remembered hearing the joke, and had flashes of the faces of the people in the room at that time. One of those peoples faces, a girl that I’ve known for some time now, triggered the memory of a conversation that I had earlier that week about her, in which someone told me that they heard she was pregnant, which brought the word “baby” to mind. 2.3 seconds later I was subconsciously humming ‘American Baby’, causing me to stop for a second and trace back how a joke about a clever midget led me to the song in what seemed like an instantaneous jump. I often find that stopping and tracing back through these mazes proves insightful into my own mind.

Daily Dose of Dave

3/17/14
Old Dirt Hill
Live from Mile High Music Festival

I spent much of today hanging out with one of my oldest friends and his wife and kid. While you know that time passes and we all grow up, there are still those people in your life that bring it right back to those younger, wilder times. Just being around certain people sends you back in time, and you are right back to the mischief and mayhem. While the temperance of age keeps it from getting out of controll, all the fun remains. This song reminds me of those times.