Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dave Matthews Band - July 17, 2010

Quite possibly one of the best concerts I ever attended. This amazing performance by Dave Matthews Band should end up in the top 10 performances when I sit down to analyze all of the concerts that I’ve seen.

Up until last Saturday, I had never been to Citi Field. I had also never seen Dave Matthews Band in a stadium setting. On a hot July night, both wishes were granted. Thanks to a phone call and an extra ticket from my buddy Tim, I was able to attend the sold out show at Citi Field. It’s nice to have good friends.

Tim, his friend Todd, and I were all heading into New York to see the show. We met at Tim’s in the early afternoon and then took off for Citi Field, with Tim at the wheel. Our trip to New York was quite adventurous for two reasons. One is that Tim is a maniac driver. He is the typical protégé Jersey madman. You know, the one that weaves in and out of traffic, tailgates, speeds, jams the breaks at the last minute – yep, that one. Fortunately for me, Todd was sitting in the front. I stayed in the backseat.

The second reason for our adventure was the traffic. Once Tim discovered that there was a huge backup getting to the George Washington Bridge, he immediately decided to take the Lincoln Tunnel and cut through midtown Manhattan in order to get to the Queens Midtown Tunnel, which would then take us to Citi Field. However, with Tim at the wheel, the ride was quite exciting. I believe my eyes were closed for most of the trip.

Once we got through Midtown and got to Citi Field, we drove right past it. Tim knew of a free parking area just a few blocks from the stadium. As a Mets fan, he had been parking there for years. It was an excellent place to park. Right under a bridge, the area was well shaded with a breeze. On a 94 degree summer afternoon, this was fantastic! We immediately fired up the grill, pulled out the cold beer, and started the tailgating festivities.

After a couple hours of hanging out, drinking, talking and eating, we were ready to head into the show. At least Todd and I were. Both of us were interested in seeing the Zac Brown Band, while Tim did not really care. We dragged him in anyway.

We go to the gates and excitement coursed through my body. What would Citi Field be like on the inside? As a huge baseball fan, I’ve enjoyed seeing all of the new stadiums and each one has been a magnificent work of art. Citi Field was no different. Huge cavernous hallways that led to the seats were the first thing that I noticed. The wide open space was a welcome change from the narrow enclosed pathways the old stadiums were known for. The new stadiums (Citi Field included) are big on open airways, so fans could still see the game while ordering a hot dog. The bottom line, Citi Field, which was modeled after Ebbets Field the old Brooklyn Dodgers facility, was gorgeous. I was impressed.

After walking the stadium, we found our way to the seats, which were excellent. We were to the right of the stage in section 106. The band was set up in dead center field and our seats were in right field, about 20 rows from the field. We had a great view of the performers, and of course, there were two giant big screens to the left and right of the stage that gave us a perfect view of the performance.

We were able to hear a few songs by the Zac Brown Band, who played for almost an hour. The songs that stood out were a blistering cover of The Devil Went Down To Georgia and Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of. That one blew me away. I was very impressed that a: they decided to do it, and b: that they did such an incredible version. The Zac Brown Band has something going on and they are going to make some noise in the coming years.

After The Zac Brown Band, we settled in for the event of the evening, The Dave Matthews Band. I was giddy – smiling, enjoying the sunset, and waiting. We made predictions of what time the band would go on, I guessed 8:45, Todd guessed 8:50. Tim didn’t render a guess, he just drank another beer. I think the band went on at 8:47, which was a split between both of our guesses. The opening notes of The Stone filled the air and the crowd roared. I, however, did not roar. The Stone is one of my least favorite DMB songs and when the band opened with it, I was worried that it was going to be a long night.

Looking down at the General Admission section of the field made me thankful to have an actual seat. The GA section was wall to wall people wedged into each other like cattle. With the heat of the day slowly evaporating, the pit must have been an awful experience. Were I in there, I would definitely have trouble breathing.

After The Stone, the band moved onto a number that I enjoyed a lot more. Warehouse was song number two, which was actually quite a surprise. I immediately changed my thoughts from earlier, thinking that this could be one special show. Dave Matthews Band obliged and did not disappoint from that moment forward. One Sweet World, Funny The Way It Is, Seek Up, Seven, Squirm, and Crash Into Me. Were performed next. It was the perfect blend of old and new. The band did an incredible version of Seek Up, and I had never witnessed that song live before, so it was a real treat for me.

Seeing Dave Matthews Band in a stadium setting is an excellent way to enjoy the band live. This is mainly due to the fact that the pot smoke doesn’t surround you and hang like a cloud of death overhead. In an outdoor setting, the pot smoke drifts upward and onward, and I can still breathe easy. That in itself is a delightful feeling. I think the band has more energy in the stadium setting as well (if that’s possible). They chose powerful songs, but didn’t stray from the beloved ballads either. We got Crash Into Me and Satellite in the same concert, a superb treat.

Five songs from their latest album Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King were performed, which was all right by me. I love the new album and this was my first opportunity to hear the songs live after owning it. The right classics from all the way back to the beginning of the band’s history through modern classics (You Might Die Trying) were performed with perfection. I can’t recall the last time the band sounded this amazing. The closest comparison I can come up with is Live Trax volume 2, when DMB played Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. That is their best performance on disc, and this Citi Field performance topped that. If I get any say, DMB needs to release these two nights at Citi Field as their next Live Trax series.

The main set closed with an intense version of Stay (Wasting Time) followed by an excellent Two Step. The encore consisted of Some Devil (Dave solo), Shake Me Like A Monkey, and a blistering cover of All Along The Watchtower, which DMB performs with such passion. It’s always a great version, and this one was no exception.

Dave Matthews Band at Citi Field was the highlight of my concert year thus far. The happiness I felt at the end of the evening is near indescribable. Walking out of the stadium I told Todd and Tim that was the best performance of the band I’ve ever seen, and I meant it. If I ever get the opportunity to see them in a stadium again, I will jump at the chance. The concert was utterly fantastic and if this is the last time I see DMB for a while (they are taking 2011 off), it’s a hell of a way to go out.

The Stone
One Sweet World
Funny The Way It Is
Seek Up
Crash Into Me
You Might Die Trying
Proudest Monkey
Dancing Nancies
Grave Digger
Stay (Wasting Time)
Two Step
Some Devil
Shake Me Like A Monkey
All Along The Watchtower

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