Dave Matthews Band @ The Gorge, 8.31.2013

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If you know me well, you know that since I was in high school, The Dave Matthews Band has been, bar none, my all time favorite band. I’ve been to see them three times now, and all three have been at The Gorge, a world-class amphitheater in George, WA, about three hours drive east of Seattle. Every concert was fantastic, three hours of pure, musical and soul rocking indulgence, where everyone is high on life or something otherwise. Last night was no different, save for the fact that it was my first time going to see them in over ten years. And let me tell you, they have not lost a single step in the last decade. Armed with my stack of albums and live CDs, a backseat full of food, and my trusty Canon Powershot S100, I was ready to go! (For gear-heads out there, that’s all I brought! Obviously I wouldn’t have been able to get my 70-200 into the show, and the concert lighting means I could shoot at reasonable ISOs, making the 24-120 zoom of the S100 far more versatile than the fixed 22mm lens on my EOS M, my 2nd choice)

So the story goes, I had noticed some advertising online for the summer tour this year, and figured I’d buy a few tickets for my brother’s early birthday gift. It would be a road trip, the two of us heading out to see a band we both have loved for almost 20 years.

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Of course, the venue is freaking off the charts. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

So what is it about the band, the music, and show?

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Dave playing solo

When I said three hours, I really meant three hours – there is very little “talking” between songs at a DMB concert, it’s simply a huge set of awesome, awesome music. With a repertoire of over eight albums and countless “live-only” tracks, every concert is a unique, once-in-a-life-time show, which only adds to the mystique. Five minute album tracks are drawn out to ten, or fifteen minutes in length with sublime jams and solos, where the crowd goes into a dancing frenzy, feeding off the energy of the band (and probably vice-versa). And the light show is simply out of this world, with colors, images, and lots and lots of smoke for those awesome beams!

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Going loud and strong for the opening track, Warehouse

This year’s show was a first for me in many ways:

1. It was my first show since the passing of Leroi Moore, saxophonist and one of the founding members of the band. It definitely wasn’t the same – not in a bad way – but no one will every replace that oh-so-sweet, dazzling, brilliant sax-play that Leroi brought to each show…as it should be. Jeff Coffin, Sax for Bela and the Fleck Tones, who has been touring with the band since then, was incredible in his own right, busting out a dual-sax solo on one of the last songs of the night (never in my life have I seen someone play two wind instruments at the same time, one in each hand!)

2. Rashawn Ross on trumpet, was also a “new member” for me, and the addition of the horn took the music to a new place, a sound I had not heard before.

3. It was my first show with Tim Reynolds playing electric guitar with the band. Holy shit was I excited when I saw him on stage! I’ve always wanted to see the guitar virtuoso on tour with DMB and my wish was fulfilled. Long, silver mane flowing, he was his usual stoic self (great imagery – black shades, eyeball-with-wings t-shirt, no smile, just ripping out riff after awesome riff) until the end of the show – when he and legendary drummer Carter Beauford went OFF on a fifteen minute, double-jam version of one DMB’s all time classics, Two Step. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tim Reynolds head bang – so baller.

4. My first show since the release of Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King and Away From the World, the two most recent albums by the band. I was belting out half the songs word-for-word while trying to catch the different, intricate melodies and pieces of many tracks I was hearing for the first time. A very different, but no less satisfying experience.

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Dave striking a sweet pose as he sings, very reminiscent of the band’s logo, the “fire dancer”

At the end of the night we couldn’t stop talking about the show as we drove back to Seattle through the starry night of eastern Washington, high on life and damn good music.

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