Though it has been almost 20 years since the seminal album “Under the Table and Dreaming” skyrocketed the band to superstar status, Dave Matthews Band is still going strong. On Aug. 24 the group closed out a two-night run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a show that blended hits from the past with a progressive new edge.
The evening opened with a short-lived set by Snoop Dogg and his backing dancers that was over before most in attendance had even arrived. Outside of both acts’ public penchant for pot, the rapper was an odd opening pick for the well-mannered audience of middle-aged, middle-class Dave fans.
Dave Matthews Band played below a massive overhead lighting rig with a large LED screen behind the stage. While this setup was great for anyone seated in the center of the stadium, the lack of additional screens and speakers made it difficult to see or hear the band from either side of the stands in the massive venue. Despite this, the real time video editing and close-ups of the band on the big screen during solos was very engaging.
Saturday’s show saw classics like “What Would You Say,” “Jimi Thing” and the romantic “Crush” blend with lesser-known newer material like the 7/4 anti-pop of “Seven” or the progressive “Drunken Soldier” that dropped into an ambient dub jam. A spot-on rendition of Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream” had many amazed at Matthew’s ability to so accurately replicate Petty’s voice.
Following the tragic death of horn player LeRoi Moore in 2008, Dave Matthews Band has significantly changed their sound with the addition of saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck), trumpeter Rashawn Ross and long-time friend Tim Reynolds on guitar. The result is a locked-in horn section and searing guitar solos on almost every track. Though Reynolds was once known for his acoustic brilliance complementing Dave on albums like “Live at Luther College,” his climatic electric solos throughout the show were anything but soothing.
Known for decades as one of the most technical drummers on the scene, Carter Beauford continues to be a joy to watch behind his elevated throne of a drum kit. With signature style (blowing bubbles and wearing white Footjoy golf gloves), Beauford controlled the show with his ambidextrous, syncopated style of playing.
After some more nonsensical banter by Dave (“I just changed my drawers”) and a solo acoustic “Some Devil”, the night ended with the driving “Two Step.” Despite an imperfect venue, Dave Matthews Band continue to prove to its loyal Colorado following why it is one of the top-grossing acts of all-time.
Nate Etter is a Boulder-based musician and a regular contributor to Reverb. You can reach him at Nate@EcoVessel.com.
Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.