Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Concert Review: Dave Matthews Band - June 6-8, 2013 (Part Two)

This is a continuation of my concert review for Dave Matthews Band June 6-8, 2013. You can find part one here:
The Tale of Night Two

Night two put me in a much better seat location at a venue I had never been to before with someone that was fast becoming a new friend. There were a lot of firsts that evening, and I even purchased a new DMB hoodie for my growing collection.

Snaz and I made the ride to Connecticut from New Jersey in a huge rainstorm. Our trip was pelted with wet weather the entire time and that caused even more traffic than usual. Our original plan was to get to the hotel, check in, relax for a little while, and then head to the venue. That plan changed when we were barley into Connecticut at 7pm. We opted to get to the venue and check into the hotel after the show.

Conversation during the ride was friendly enough and we were both excited to see DMB for a second night in a row. We both had great seats that evening, although on opposite sides of the venue. I had what could be the best seat I’ve ever had for a DMB concert. I was 10th row stage right near the aisle. It was an amazing perspective from which to witness the band.

As we rolled into the parking lot the skies opened wide. It was bad enough that it had rained all day, but as we parked the car the rain came down even harder. I was resigned to the fact that we were getting wet. With a hard, soaking rain coming down, Snaz and I made our way inside the venue and went to find our individual seats.

We were fortunate enough to get to our seats before The Head and The Heart finished their set. I was able to see their last two songs and I immediately scolded myself for not watching them the night before. I also made a mental note to get to the venue early enough the next day to watch their entire performance.

That’s another magnificent enjoyment of live concerts. Sometimes an opening act is so amazing that they become a favorite band in no time. Such was the case with The Head and The Heart. Hearing just two songs (one and a half in all honesty) made me an instant fan. I had to hear more from this band. I had to hear more of their songs. I wanted to know more about this band.

As The Head and The Heart left the stage and it was prepared for the headliners, the rain came down even harder. I was so thankful to have an actual seat under cover for that night’s show. Being on the lawn would have drowned me in no time. It looked absolutely miserable!

When it came time for Dave Matthews Band to take the stage, the opening notes of “#34” rang out and the crowd roared. “#34” is a rare song to hear in concert and it’s almost never played since LeRoi Moore passed away. To hear it as the opening number was going to be a real treat. Alas, we would not be treated that night as expected. It was just a tease. The band segued from the first thirty seconds or so of “#34” into “JTR.” This was an appropriate opener with the hook of “Rain, rain, rain down on me.” I was pleased because I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that song in concert (before or since).

My second of three consecutive nights with Dave Matthews Band was magnificent. The band performed a cover of Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream” and played an outstanding version of the song. I’m a big Tom Petty fan and I thought that DMB was true to the original while still adding their own flavor. It was a nice surprise, and I would welcome seeing them play that song more often.

Other highlights of the night included “Big Eyed Fish” (only the second time I’ve seen that live), my first time seeing “Song That Jane Likes” (a song I absolutely love) and a terrific performance of “Bartender” which I think is one of the best songs in the DMB catalog.

Another special moment occurred during that concert. It was once again a situation where a song was played that I either hadn’t paid attention to, or hadn’t really cared for. In this instance, it was “The Dreaming Tree.” This is a song that I liked but never thought it was anything special and never consumed it that often. And then the band played it live in Hartford. Seeing the live rendition of this song moved it up the chart for me. I was captivated at how the song weaved in its live setting. By the end of the performance I was a cemented fan and knew that “The Dreaming Tree” was going to be in regular rotation a lot more often than it had in the past. It just blew me away.

The big moment of the night came at the end of the concert. For those that are not aware, at the end of every concert, drummer Carter Beauford comes to the front of the stage and tosses drumsticks into the crowd. It’s been a dream of mine to catch a drumstick from him; a fine piece that I would have framed and mounted on my wall as the jeweled piece to my concert memorabilia collection. This was going to be my best opportunity as I was just a few rows from the stage and well within catching distance.

As Carter made his way to our side of the stage grinning and full of the happiness that he always has, my heart raced and a smile of my own crept upon my face. I was getting a drumstick that night. I could feel it. He tossed a couple of drumsticks to the people in the very front and I watched and waited. Then he pointed and tossed a couple of drumsticks deep behind me as I continued to watch and wait. Then the moment happened. Carter pointed a drumstick in our direction, pulled back, and let the drumstick fly from his hand. My eyes watched as the world moved in slow motion and the drumstick headed toward me, spinning and rotating like a well thrown curveball from a pitchers’ hand. I stretched my right arm up at the exact moment the drumstick crossed my path and felt it hit my hands. I closed my hand as quick as possible and when my hand came back toward my body, there was nothing in it. The drumstick had hit off my hand and landed behind me. I quickly wheeled around only to see someone else with the drumstick clutched to their chest like the amazing reward it was. I sighed and let out a laugh of disappointment. Not this time…

Setilist From Night Two:
June 7, 2013 (Comcast Theatre)
#34 (tease)
Broken Things
The Idea Of You
Kill The Preacher
Why I Am
Belly Belly Nice
Big Eyed Fish
The Song That Jane Likes
Lie In Our Graves
Running Down A Dream (Tom Petty Cover)
The Dreaming Tree
Rhyme And Reason
Ants Marching
Drunken Soldier
All Along The Watchtower

Monday, August 21, 2017

Concert Review: Dave Matthews Band June 6 - 8, 2013 (Part One)

Have you ever stopped to wonder how such a wonderful thing as friendship occurs? What is it that places a connection between two people where they would have a level of trust and consideration to call themselves friends instead of acquaintances? Merriam-Webster defines a friend as “one attached to another by affection or esteem; a favored companion.” What needs to occur to transform a person from a stranger to a favored companion?

Making new friends seems to get harder the older a person gets, at least in my experience. There are les opportunities to make true “friends”. Yet, occasionally, the stars align, circumstances click into place, and two people get the chance to meet, bond, and ultimately become friends. Such a situation happened to me in the days leading up to my 40th birthday.

The Tale of Ryo Turning 40

In the months before my 40th birthday, I found myself listening to scads of songs by the Dave Matthews Band. I had established a real appreciation for their live shows in ways I never did before and the band was quickly rising to a top 5 favorite band status, which was huge. The top 5 was reserved for the best of the best, bands I had listened to and loved all my life. KISS, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen. How could Dave Matthews Band, a band that I had only recently begun to really love, take over a coveted top 5 spot? And yet, here they were, knocking on the door of all time most loved bands.

In 2012, I traveled to see DMB for the first time. I drove to SPAC and took my nephew to witness the band live and I journeyed to Bethel Woods to see DMB in concert. Granted these wee not journeys of thousands of miles, but they were the first road trips I had undertaken to see a band give a live representation of their music since migrating to Hartford, CT, to attend a Billy Joel outing. Setting out twice in the same summer to watch a band was huge for me.

With my 40th birthday approaching and midlife crisis near full bloom, I wanted to do something completely out of the ordinary. I wanted to have my own little adventure complete with a road trip, music, and lots of fun that I would remember for years. I wanted to seize the moment and be completely unpredictable. I just wasn’t completely sure what I wanted that something to be.

When Dave Matthews Band announced tour dates for their 2013 tour, I knew I wanted to enjoy a show or two. And seeing the shows alone was not the best solution. My challenge with Dave Matthews Band is that I don’t have many friends who are into the band, and the ones that are won’t travel to see them. My wife can’t stand the band (I still love her though) and she will not go to a DMB concert, let alone travel to one. My other friends who like DMB will go to a local show, but that’s about it. And that summer, the only local show DMB would perform was at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. That show would be watched with my friend Rick, but any other show was going to be a solo venture at best.

Enter AntsMarching.org. For the unenlightened, antsmarching.org is the best fan site in existence for the Dave Matthews Band. They post band news, tour information, band bios, original podcasts about the group, and they have one of the best forum pages on the web. It is a fan’s euphoria website dedicated to everything Dave Matthews Band. The site has been around forever, but I joined the community in 2012 when my interest in DMB concerts, setlists, and happenings was at an all-time high.

As mentioned, the website has a forum page where like-minded fans can set up topics, leave messages, and interact with the rabid DMB community fan base. I continued to hem and haw about what to do for my 40th birthday and tried to determine if it would ultimately be trip to multiple venues with an audience of one. It was my wife’s gentle suggestion that I post on the forum to see if anyone was interested in travelling from NJ to the shows in CT that changed my life forever.

I had concluded that I wanted to see the three shows happening the weekend of my birthday. On June 6th, I would see the band in Holmdel. On June 7th and 8th, I would witness the band live in Hartford. On June 9th, I would turn 40 and drive home. It sounded like a terrific celebration to 40 years of life. The problem of going alone still existed however, but I decided that was all right. This was an opportunity that I didn’t want to miss out on. How often was I going to be able to see Dave Matthews Band in concert for a milestone birthday?

At the urging of my wife, I did post on the forum to see if anyone was responsive to wandering from NJ to CT and back again. I put the post up and really didn’t think much of it. I figured that maybe one or two people may inquire, but most likely no one would. And I was okay with that. If going alone was the ultimate outcome, then so be it. I was still going to see Dave Matthews Band three nights in a row and would celebrate my birthday in style.

Can you imagine my surprise when there was an actual response to my post? Someone was interested in taking the ride with me? On top of that, the someone was female, travelling alone, and coming from Australia. I sat there in disbelief scratching my head. Was this for real? What woman from another country asks a complete stranger for a ride from one state to another? Was she some sort of psycho killer? Was I going to get murdered on the highway? Was I going to die before turning 40? This had to be some sort of a scam.

The Tale of Ryo and Snaz

Snaz was interested in experiencing a round trip from Jersey to Connecticut.  She also proclaimed that she might need a ride to the NJ venue if possible. I was more than happy to give her a lift to the Jersey venue and delighted to have a fellow DMB fan take a trip to Hartford with me. I did explain to her that the Holmdel show would include another friend, so she was going to be hanging with two guys she didn’t know before the show. She seemed totally fine with that which made me laugh. How crazy was this woman?

I don’t recall the exact nuances of our initial exchange, but know that the first occurred approximately four months before the shows. We exchanged pleasantries and introductions and a little information about ourselves. She told me her name, but that she was referred to as Snaz by her friends. She explained that she was a huge fan of the Dave Matthews Band and was taking a trip to America to see them in concert at several venues across the USA. I thought that was tremendous and the sign of a devoted fan. Who goes to other countries to see their favorite band?

Over the next few months, we exchanged several emails, feeling each other out and confirming our comfort level with one another to take this kind of trip. She friended my wife on Facebook and confirmed that Mrs. Vie was okay with me taking a long road trip on the weekend of my 40th birthday with an unknown foreign woman. My wife was totally fine with it because she is one of the best women in the world and our relationship of trust is that solid.

Over the course of email exchanges, Snaz and I connected and got to know each other. We told each other stories of how we became fans of DMB, and I told her about my wife’s hatred for the band. We bonded through the power of internet email and by the time the concerts arrived the first twinges of friendship were in bloom.

The Tale of Night One

On the evening of the New Jersey concert, Rick and I met Snaz in the parking lot of her hotel and headed toward the show. There was barely any awkward silence as we talked and laughed and looked forward to seeing Dave Matthews Band in concert. Snaz had a good seat in the front of the venue, while Rick and I were delegated to the lawn. We tailgated with beer and submarine sandwiches and listened to tales of Snaz’ American travels. Rick and I also shared stories of our friendship and how we met and remained friends. By show time we were all filled with delight. 

The opening act for all three nights was a band I did not know at the time, The Head and The Heart. Having never heard their music, I was in no particular rush to see their set, a decision I would come to regret later. We stayed in the parking lot a little longer and then slowly made out way inside the venue. Snaz went for her seat and Rick and I picked our spots on the lawn.

DMB took the stage not long after we staked our claim on the lawn and the night was off and running. Highlights from night one included a “Tripping Billies” opener, a fantastic version of “Recently,” an amazing version of “Cry Freedom,” and a spectacular “So Right” in the encore. Rick wanted to hear “Satellite” in the worst way, and I told him that the chances were slim. It certainly wasn’t a song that they played at every concert. He was disappointed but still had a great time overall.

“Cry Freedom” was one of those DMB songs that I never really appreciated until I saw it live. Prior to that June night, “Cry Freedom” was a song that I skipped over a lot whenever listening to Crash. It’s not that I thought it was a terrible song, it’s just that it was far from one of my favorites---definitely lower third on the most enjoyed songs by DMB list.

And that’s one of the magnificent enjoyments of seeing live concerts. As an audience member, you can come away with an appreciation for a certain song that may not have been there prior. There was no choice that night, I had to listen to “Cry Freedom.” This was a live concert. I couldn’t just skip over the song. So, I leaned back and really listened to the song probably for the first time in my life. Halfway through it I was mesmerized. Why hadn’t I given this song more love before that moment? Since then, “Cry Freedom” has become one of my favorite Dave Matthews Band songs and I yearn to hear it when I see them in concert.

Night one was a success and a stupendous way to start my birthday weekend.

Setlist From Night One:
June 6, 2013 (PNC Bank Arts Center)
Tripping Billies
Save Me
Don’t Drink The Water
The Idea Of You
Grey Street
Belly Belly Nice
Cry Freedom
Crash Into Me
Drive In Drive Out
Jimi Thing
So Right
Ants Marching

Monday, August 14, 2017

New Music Monday Featuring Prophets Of Rage, Fall Out Boy, and Nick Deep

Welcome to another edition of New Music Monday! This time around I have some great new music from Prophets of Rage, Fall Out Boy, and Nick Deep. Check them all out below!

Prophets Of Rage – Radical Eyes
First up is “Radical Eyes” from Prophets Of Rage. This is the latest track from their forthcoming self-titled album due out on September 15th. “Radical Eyes” is a hard-hitting fistful of rap-metal that is bound to make your ears perk and your mouth smile. I am really enjoying the songs that I have heard from this record and look forward to the full release this September.

Fall Out Boy – Champion
Next up is the latest single from Fall Out Boy, “Champion.” This is a great video for a great song and one that I am sure you will watch multiple times over! Look for Fall Out Boy on tour this fall.

Nick Deep – Motion Sickness
Rounding out this edition of New Music Monday is a fun song from Nick Deep, “Motion Sickness.” It sounds like a blend of Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, and Blink 182 all rolled into one. This song is from their upcoming album The Peace and The Panic which is due out on August 18th.