One indication of a great concert is the number of times a specific song is listened to after the performance has concluded. I’ve always felt that an excellent concert will create a desire to listen to a certain song (or songs) for several days after the event. Such was the case following the Dave Matthews Band performance in Holmdel, New Jersey on June 7th.
Sadly, this was to be my only time seeing the band in 2016 (barring a late decision to just take an immediate road trip or travel to the Gorge). And perhaps for that reason my expectations and anticipation levels were heightened. It had been a long time since I was so excited to see a concert. DMB was early in their 2016 tour and their previous performances looked amazing. I was hopeful that this was going to be an exceptional show.
Getting to the concert was an absolute fiasco! I left my office at 5pm for an 8pm show. I didn’t have any plans to tailgate and figured I would be inside the venue by 7pm. That would leave plenty of time to get a drink, perhaps some food, and get to my seat. The travel time from my office to the venue without traffic is just under an hour. Even with traffic, 2 hours was more than enough time to get there, or so I thought.
After leaving the office and getting on the highway, I hit nothing but traffic. The first highway was backed up with volume traffic. Then when I get to the Garden State Parkway (over an hour later) that was backed up from the time I got on, until I saw my exit. At 6:45, I pulled into the line of traffic leading to the venue --- still over a mile away from the entrance. That was backed up to a near standstill! I wasn’t able to pull into the venue until almost 7:30 and I still had to find parking.
I had read previous concert reviews and posts on Ants Marching (www.antsmarching.org) that the band was taking the stage promptly this tour and they were usually on by 8:20. Knowing that I still had to park the car, meet my Uncle and cousin, get into the venue, and then find my seats had me very nervous. At 7:30 I was still in my car and crawling to the first open parking lot. By the time I parked the car and got out it was 7:45. My uncle and cousin had yet to arrive. I planned to meet them at the gate and hope for the best.
It was 8:15 before they arrived at the gate, and then we still had to get through security. I was panicked and reserved to the fact that I was going to miss the opening song. I only hoped that it wouldn’t be a great one at that point. Thankfully we got through security, grabbed a beer, and made it to our seats before DMB took the stage at 8:27. It was mere moments before, but I didn’t miss a note!
The band came out with an amazing three pack of awesome tunes. “One Sweet World” led to “Minarets” and was followed by “Big Eyed Fish.” “Minarets” is one of my favorite DMB songs and I was over the moon to hear it live. It was a song that I was hoping would be performed and it was nice to get it so early in the set.
New songs were performed on that cool June night and thanks to the wonders of the internet, I was well versed in them already. That still didn’t compare to hearing them live. “Bismarck” was the first new song performed and it sounded incredible. I have a feeling that I will be listening to this song more often after seeing it live. A few songs later “Samurai Cop” was played and I was absolutely blown away. “Samurai Cop” is a slow tempo beauty that could be one of the best songs the band has done in a long time. It is very reminiscent of “Break Free” with exceptional solos and incredible guitar work. Prior to the concert I listened to the song several times. After the show I probably played it 2 dozen more times. It’s just an amazing work of art and I am hopeful that it will find its way onto the next studio album.
As with most concerts, song selection is a very important part in how well liked the show is going to be. On that night, Dave Matthews Band did not disappoint. “Crush,” “Crash Into Me,” “Seven,” “Dancing Nancies,” “Warehouse,” “Satellite,” “Break Free” and “The Song That Jane Likes” were all performed. It was like my own personal favorites playlist was chosen as the setlist.
“Break Free” is a song I have a lot of love for, but had forgotten about in recent years. When it first came out, I listened to it often, and then it fell to the wayside as other songs rose in the ranks. Since the concert, I have been listening to “Break Free” a lot and I was so happy to rediscover the beauty of it.
“Why I Am” was also performed and it is a song that I never really got into. It was one of my least favorites on Big Whiskey And The Groo Grux King and I always thought that it was okay at best. Yet for some reason when it was played live that night, I really enjoyed it. I even said to myself “I never realized how good this song is.” Since then, I have found myself listening to it more and more. As previously stated that is the sign of a good concert. I am listening to a couple of forgotten tracks days after the show has ended (and probably still will be weeks from now).
And while I was disappointed by the encore (a pretty rough version of “The Space Between” followed by “Grey Street” a song that I find average at best), overall it was a great night. I survived the traffic, witnessed one of my favorite bands live in concert, and experienced it all under great weather with family. What more could you ask for?
One Sweet World
Big Eyed Fish
Crash Into Me
Death On The High Seas
Kill The Preacher
Why I Am
The Song That Jane Likes
You Might Die Trying
The Space Between