Monday, May 14, 2007

Dave Matthews Band (live): A Primer

For a group of laid-back, genial musicians, Charlottesville, VA's Dave Matthews Band has been one of the more divisive groups (among music nerds, anyway) in recent memory. They’re everything that’s right with music; they’re Dead rip-offs. Dave’s lyrics are positive and charming; Dave’s voice is annoying. Their grass-roots approach has been the inspiration for, at this point, hundreds of bands; their fans suck. It goes back and forth, and to some degree, both sides are right. Here’s what I wrote in my Exchange with Michael Atchison, a firm member of the ‘anti-DMB’ camp.

As for DMB...when somebody tells me they're not a fan, I just say that I understand. While it's rewarding to delve deeply into their catalog, I've not been a fan of almost any of their singles (same goes for [Pearl Jam], actually), their music is a pretty acquired taste, and their fanbase--a unique amalgamation of frat dudes, stoners, and complete music nerds like me--is one of the most whiny, self-righteous fanbases out there (and I say that as a member of the fanbase!).

For the most part, I’ve been doing this “Primer” series on artists who aren’t well-known enough to have sold out Giants Stadium multiple times. However, as a decade-long member of the ‘pro-DMB’ camp, I figured the least I could do was try to illustrate why I do like DMB. So here we go.

(I should note that I’m using only songs from official DMB releases. I could have broken into my spindles and spindles of live “I’m a huge Music Dork” DMB recordings, but that wouldn’t help all of you GN readers who will most assuredly rush out to get your hands on as much live DMB music as possible after reading I only went with stuff you can buy at your local music store or—more likely—order online.)

1. Ants Marching, Red Rocks (8-15-1995)

Full disclosure...and I’ve never admitted this to anybody, so you—the loyal Good Nonsense readers—should feel very honored and privileged: I am the lowest of the low among DMB fans—I am a Crashhead. That derotagory nickname is a way of saying I did not discover DMB the ‘correct’ way, the grassroots way. I discovered DMB in the most embarassing, commericalized, non-hardcore-fan-inducing way possible: watching Party of Five in early 1997 with my high school girlfriend and hearing “Crash Into Me” played during a romantic scene between Jennifer Love Hewitt and Scott Wolf. There. I’ve admitted it.

Uhh...okay, I take it back. None of that happened. I, uhh...okay, too late. Cat’s out of the bag. We were watching a painfully, cheesily romantic moment on a painfully, cheesily melodramatic show, and I was struck by the poetic wordplay of DMB’s most painfully, cheesily poppy song, so I went to the local Wal Mart (the only place to buy music in Western Oklahoma) and purchased Crash.

A week later, I owned Under the Table and Dreaming (1994), Remember Two Things (1993), and the Recently EP as well. I got hooked fast. The funny thing is, most hardcore DMB fans...the people who can no longer count just how many DMB shows they’ve attended (or how much money they’ve spent on live shows and live albums and blank discs to download and burn live bootlegs) didn’t usually come across the band in this way. They heard about the band through word-of-mouth or a live tape, or they got talked into seeing the band live or something, and they got hooked. Always one to be different, I became hooked before I even knew of their live prowess.

Of course, when I was posting on DMB message boards back in the day, I didn’t exactly admit this.

It turned out that I was jumping on the DMB bandwagon at the perfect time. I got hooked just before going to college, where, needless to say, I was no longer the only DMB fan I knew. I soon became aware of their live reputation because, the fall of my freshman year, they released their first official live album—Live at Red Rocks, 8.15.95. I came to grasp why DMB had so many hardcore followers, and I quickly became one of them. I attended my first official DMB show in Dallas on 8-13-98 (the infamous—among DMB nerds, anyway—“invasion of the crickets” show).

Any list of live DMB songs really has to include “Ants”, so I thought I’d get it out of the way early. This song has one of the the most recognizable quarter-note (or is that a half-note?) drum beats of all-time, and those simple beats are certain to be followed by the loudest cheers of the night. This song has aged well—it remains probably DMB’s most reliable, best set closer. This version is also notable for the way it segued from the previous song (“#36”, to be addressed later on) straight into the “Ants” beat. One of the best moments I’ve ever had at a DMB show came in Columbus in 1999 (6-19-1999, to be exact), when live staple “Warehouse” segued directly into “Ants”, catching much of the crowd—including myself—off-guard.

One aspect of the band’s music is the celebratory nature of so many of the songs. Well, this is one of the most celebratory, most loved songs in the catalog. And Live at Red Rocks is one of the most celebrated, most loved shows in DMB lore. Performing at the historic Colorado venue represented an early peak for the band, and the show itself was something of a peak as well. It’s interesting to hear how much so many of these songs have changed in the last twelve years. This is a performing band that consistently shakes songs (and setlists) up, which is one of the reason there is such a loyal group of show collectors, myself included.

(Okay, back to PO5 for a second. It really creeps me out to realize that whiny little Claudia—Lacey Chabert—is now old enough to have been in Maxim (or FHM or of them...I’m not looking it up) not once, but twice now. If realizing Empire Records was 12 years old made me feel old, this downright makes me feel downright creepy. I shouldn’t even be talking about this. Forget I brought it up.)

2. Seek Up, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds: Live at Luther College (2-6-1996)

Technically, this isn’t a Dave Matthews Band performance, but Dave & Tim shows are part of the DMB lore, so I’m counting it. Timmy is a fellow Charlottesvillian (Charlottesville-ite? Person from Charlottesville?) and has been a long-time DMB collaborator—or rather, he was a collaborator in the mid- and late-‘90s...not so much since then. For a different atmosphere and sound, Dave and Tim have occasionally gone on tour through mostly college venues, and right before the ’99 D&T tour, Live at Luther College was released to whet everybody’s appetite.

“Seek Up” has always been a treat at full-band shows, especially as a set opener—even at 10+ (or 15+) minutes, it’s a nice way to get things started. The musicians enter the song one-by-one, single file, and with each new component, the groove builds nicely. It’s one of my favorite full-band songs. However, I’m putting this D&T version on the list because of one single reason: it is the best thing on Live @ Luther College. You know a song is good when you can completely change the structure and instrumentation behind it and it stays wonderful.

For those who don’t like Dave Matthews’ music, one reason is probably his occasionally cheesy, save-the-world lyrics, and this song definitely skates a little close to the Indigo Girls line (“Look at me in my fancy car/And my bank account/Oh, how I wish I could take it all/Down to my grave/God knows I’d save and save”), but he gets away with it because...well, I’m not sure how he gets away with it. Must be his delivery. He gets away with it in “Seek Up” because of everything, really—the song’s just gorgeous.

And for those who don’t like DMB fans (I’ll address them further in a bit), well...don’t go to a D&T show. Dave has created a very familiar, open presence with his fans, and that backfires in a more intimate venue when people start shouting out song requests and yelling what they think are inside jokes (but are really just pathetic attempts at establishing a connection). You don’t really hear this too much on Live at Luther College, though you do hear him addressing requests a couple times. L@LC does manage to highlight the intimacy of many DMB songs, including “Say Goodbye” (lyrically, a pretty creepy song in which Dave begs a good female friend for sex, but musically, my absolute favorite DMB song...go figure), and “One Sweet World” (another ‘save the earth’ kind of song).

I should also mention that I met my future roommate—fellow GN poster Hear No Evil—while camping out on the Mizzou campus for D&T tickets. I thought I was a DMB nerd, but I had no idea. HNE introduced me to the world of DMB live downloads, and my bank account was never the same (blank discs were expensive back then!).

3. I’ll Back You Up, Worcester College (12-8-1998)

Another reason to dislike DMB (so I hear) is Dave’s voice—in particular, his trips to falsetto land. Well, if you don’t like Dave’s voice, you probably won’t like this song. But it’s one of the quietest, most touching songs in the DMB catalog. It quickly became my first official “favorite DMB song” and is still in the top 5. The lyrics, like most of my favorite Dave lyrics, don’t really translate well on paper (“I remember thinking/Sometimes we walk, sometimes we run away/But I know/No matter how fast we are running/Somehow we keep...somehow we keep up with each other” doesn’t sound nearly as good on paper), but his falsetto (shaky but not “You Are So Beautiful to Me” shaky) make it one of the most heartfelt songs I’ve heard. Plus there’s always been an added value of intrigue when considering it was written for a woman he proposed to—and was turned down by—three times.

This Worcester College version is a rare full-band (or at least half-full band) effort, and guest Tim Reynolds’ solo near the end is spare and unbelievable.

4. The Last Stop, United Center (12-19-1998)

The Winter 1998 tour marked an interesting time in the DMB chronology. Their 1998 release, Before These Crowded Streets, had debuted at #1. They had just finished their first expansive amphitheatre tour that summer. They were selling out every venue they played. They were getting ready to move from amphitheatres to stadiums. Through all this transition, their 1998 arena tour had a unique feel to it. Lots of guests, lots of jams. Less songs, longer shows. Two of these shows have been officially released by the band. The Chicago show, the last of the tour (the ‘last stop’, if you will...sorry) saw Tim Reynolds sitting in the entire show, former James Brown saxophonist Maceo Parker sitting in on “What Would You Say”, and Vic Wooten and Mitch Rutman sitting in on a cover of Daniel Lanois’ “The Maker”. In all, it was a wonderfully unique show, kicked off by a long-time DMB nerd favorite, “The Last Stop.”

“Last Stop” is unique in the DMB catalog—it’s got a distinct Middle Eastern twang and religious, spiritual lyrics (only one other DMB song—“Minarets”—fits these characteristics):

Gracious even God
Bloodied on the cross, your sins are washed enough
A mother’s cry
“Is hate so deep?
Must a baby’s bones this hungry fire feed?”
This song represents a strong musical accomplishment for the band. In all, Before These Crowded Streets is probably the most musically unique album in the DMB discography. While 2002’s Busted Stuff is lyrically darker, BTCS reaches a unique darkness and a musical foreboding. It’s good dark enough that I haven’t listened to it in about two years...ever since The Butterfly listened to it and liked it enough to steal it and keep it in her car. Not that I'm bitter.

5. Two Step, East Rutherford (9-11-1999)

In the Summer of 1999, my DMB nerddom took quite a few steps up the ladder. After seeing DMB in Columbus with HNE (he lived in StL, and Columbus is almost exactly halfway between StL and DC, where I was living for the summer), I attended shows in Hershey and outside DC (in Bristow, VA, at Nissan Pavilion, possibly the hardest venue in the country to get in and out of—there is no way to avoid a 3-hour traffic jam getting in, and there’s no reason to even start your car for at least 2 hours after the show), and I started to truly get a feel for what was great about a DMB set and what was great and terrible about DMB fans.

DMB fans are an impressive lot, really. They’re diverse in their expectations of a show—some come to get drunk and high and listen to the music, some come to get drunk and high, talk (yell) on their cell phones (“WHAT? I’M AT THE DAVE SHOW! IT ROCKS!!! WHAT?”), and yell out their requests (likely either “Crash”, “All Along the Watchtower”, or the latest single), some come to get drunk and high and laid, and some (like me) come to enjoy the songs, bitch about the drunks in the crowd, memorize (and maybe bitch about) the setlist, and look for tapers. And it’s very much assured that members of each group of those fans (especially the group in which I reside) don’t really enjoy members of any of the other groups. But they attend a bazillion shows anyway.

The single best, most unified crowd moment of a typical DMB show is the moment the intro to “Two Step” ends and the song truly begins. Everybody knows it’s coming, everybody’s ready, and everybody just starts doing whatever their own personal version of dancing is (mine, for instance, is bobbing my head up and down and watching everybody else losing their minds). All the disparate groups coexist for a moment. It’s fun to watch. “Two Step” has been another live staple for well over a decade now, and while it’s changed shape a bit, it’s always a show highlight.

6. JTR, Folsom Field (7-11-2001)

The summers of 2000-01 represented a relatively active DMB-going period for me. Most DMB nerds compiled a much bigger list of shows than the nine I attended those two summers, but...well, I couldn’t afford it. I was content with attending a few and collecting just about every show of the tours via download. This period of 2000-01 probably represented DMB’s highest level of popularity—both summers, they played Giants Stadium, Foxboro Stadium, Veterans Stadium, RFK Stadium, Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium, Soldier Field, and others.

My only experience in one of these huge venues was at RFK Stadium in DC in 2000. Never has the weather been so poor at a concert I attended, yet rarely have I had a better time. By the time Ozomatli and Ben Harper had played and it was time for DMB to take the stage, the crowd was drenched and slap-happy. DMB opened with “JTR”, with its chorus of “Rain, rain, rain down on me,” and all 50,000+ in the stadium lost it. It was the perfect way to kick off what would be one of the better concerts I’ve seen. But a simple line from a chorus doesn’t describe what’s great about this song.

“JTR” started as a cover of the old standard, “John the Revelator”, which DMB performed with Santana when the latter opened during a few stadium shows in May 1999. However, when DMB went into the studio in the winter of ’99-’00, they turned it into their own song. In fact, it has become one of DMB’s greatest ‘original’ songs. The last 2-3 minutes of “JTR” are quite simply the best musical achievement of DMB’s first 15 years together. The song breaks down from its verse-chorus structure and almost disintegrates into chaotic sax and shrieking violin before pulling back together and rollicking on toward the end. I don’t think that came anywhere close to describing it correctly, but it’s to be heard, not read.

As a whole, Live from Folsom Field is one of the best in the ever-expanding official release catalog. Boulder’s Fox Theatre was one of the band’s favorite stops when they began country-wide touring, and playing at Folsom Field was a nod to that.

7. Everyday/#36, The Gorge (9-6-2002)

In 1999 and early 2000, DMB got together with Steve Lillywhite, producer of their three previous major-label releases, to record their next album. Their partnership had been quite fruitful to this point, and the material with which they were working was strong. However, something wasn’t quite right. Dave was drinking a lot, the content of the lyrics was quite dark, and in general the band was down about the recording process and its results. Here’s a quote from drummer Carter Beauford in a 2001 Rolling Stone article:

"Bruce [Flohr, Senior VP of A&R and Artist Development at RCA Records] and I stepped outside one evening after doing some takes, and he said, 'Carter, how do you feel about this record?' I just had to come out and tell him I wasn't feeling it. The vibe wasn't there, you know? It was lacking everything the Dave Matthews Band was about. So I said, 'Look, I don't feel it, and I'm almost certain the other guys don't feel it. We need to make a move.' And Bruce said, 'That's all I needed to hear.' From that point he began working to find someone else to produce the record and working toward putting our heads into a forward and positive space."
That someone was producer Glen Ballard. After the summer 2000 tour, Dave met with Ballard to find a new energy and write some new songs. They quickly and unexpectedly created an entire album’s worth of material. It was released as Everyday in early 2001, and the reviews were, shall we say, underwhelming, particularly from the hardcore nerdbase. Everyday had some catchy songs—“So Right” is pretty fun, “The Space Between” isn’t just horrifyingly cheesy, and...uhh...the guitar lick in “I Did It” is pretty good. But the work as a whole was substandard. The lyrics were underdeveloped and, well, underwhelming. “Why must I beg like a child for your candy” (from “Angel”)? “Make a bomb of love and blow it up” (from “I Did It”)? Really, Dave? Departures from normalcy are fine (as Stand Up would prove a few years later) and even encouraged, but they still have to produce good work.

DMB nerds were further displeased when leaks of the Lillywhite recording sessions surfaced. The songs were fantastic. But I won’t go down this road. You can read about the whole ordeal here and here. The point is, The Lillywhite Sessions were great, and there was displeasure among the fanbase.

If there was a standout song on Everyday, it was the title track. It’s a simple song with positive, non-earth-shattering lyrics, and its structure was derived from “#36”, a song from the Live at Red Rocks days.

In April 2001, Hear No Evil and I drove from Missouri to Virginia for the opening show of the 2001 tour, a Charlottesville homecoming. The Everyday material was unsteady—some strong material, some weak—and there was an underlying tension surrounding the event. Two songs worked to break the tension: a mid-set “All Along the Watchtower” with Neil Young, who opened the show w/Crazy Horse and took the song hostage, giving Dave quite the guitar lesson—and a late-set “Everyday” that completely incorporated the words and chorus of “#36”. It’s hard to describe why this was cool, but it seemed like a nod to the old, conflicted fans...and it made a solid song infinitely better. This combination song continued to get better over the next couple of years.

Overlooking the Columbia River, the Gorge (in George, WA) has always been one of DMB’s favorite venues, and The Gorge 2002 showcases the best performances of their multi-night stay there. Maybe it’s just because I was there for the first performance of “Everyday”/”#36”, but I love this song, especially this version. The crowd joins in on the backing vocals, and you can close your eyes, picture the sun setting over the Columbia River gorge, picture the entire crowd singing the “Come and dance with me” refrain...yeah, this would be a nice experience.

Thanks to a friend of mine with a knack for getting great tickets (and the fact that I was in DC for one last summer), 2002 was my heaviest DMB-going summer. Looking at the show list from that year, I can’t actually remember how many shows I attended. Pretty sure it was 10. Either way, the vibe for the crowd and the band for most of the 2002 shows was more pleasant and satisfied than anything during 2001. The big reason for this was the release of Busted Stuff, a collection of most songs from the Lillywhite Sessions plus two new ones—“Where Are You Going” and “You Never Know” (which is one of their best, most emotional songs). It was a “make peace with the old fans before moving in a different direction” gesture that didn’t go unnoticed. In all, Busted Stuff is probably their best album, gesture or no gesture.

8. Bartender, Red Rocks (9-9-2005)

Shortly after DMB’s 2003 Central Park performance, it was released as a massive 3-disc show. It’s pretty good—their cover of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” with Warren Haynes is among many highlights—but it just doesn’t hold a candle to future releases. The years of 2003-2004 featured plenty of good shows and new highlights, but it was a period of treading water. DMB wanted to move in a different direction and did so with Everyday, but it was something of a false start. After resituating with Busted Stuff, it was once again time to try something new. In Winter 2004-05, they hired producer Mark Batson, who was known mostly for working with acts like Eminem, and got to work.

As a whole, 2005’s Stand Up is everything Everyday was intended to be. There’s some electric guitar, some new instrumentation, some further steps in the area of R&B and funk, and—strangely—simultaneously more simplistic lyrics and melodies and more complex experimentation. It’s admirable, but it’s a mixed bag. Some songs (“Old Dirt Hill”, “American Baby”, “Everybody Wake Up") don’t at all work for me, but those that do (“Louisiana Bayou”, “Hello Again”, “Smooth Rider”) absolutely blow me away.

The process of creating Stand Up served another purpose—it reawakened DMB to the pleasures of their old songs as well. The setlists were more varied than ever, and the energy and quality of play was as high as it had ever been. I attended one show in 2005—my first since 2002 (it’s called “getting a full-time job and getting into a serious relationship”), and I loved it. And because of all this, two songs from 2005 shows make this list.

First up is “Bartender”, from Busted Stuff. This song obliterates me every time. Heartbreaking lyrics, Dave’s most passionate singing, and Carter Beauford’s strongest drumwork (which is saying something) make this something special. The Lillywhite Sessions version will always hold a special place with me because it came first (and because of Carter’s emotional drums), but the Busted Stuff version is solid as well. However, the live version is an experience in and of itself, especially this Red Rocks version—coming ten years after their celebrated first trip to Red Rocks.

Slight aside: in the extended version of Almost Famous, there’s a scene in which William Miller (played by Patrick Fugit) and Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) are discussing how it’s the littlest things in music that people remember the most:

Russell: It’s not what you put into the music. It’s what you leave out. Listen to Marvin Gaye...a song like “What’s Happening Brother”...there’s a single ‘woo’ at the end of the second verse. You know that woo? That single woo?

William: I know that woo! (Tries to sing it) Woo!

Russell: Yeah! That’s what you remember, man. It’s the little things...the silly things...the mistakes. There’s only one of ‘em, and it makes the song! That’s rock and roll, man!
(I just spent about an hour looking for this quote...I somehow managed to skip over it about four separate times while searching. I could have almost watched the whole damn movie in the time it took me to find this silly quote. Needless to say, The Butterfly is not too happy with me at the moment. She just doesn’t get me sometimes.)

Anyway, there’s a point near the end of this (and only this) version of “Bartender” where Dave lets out a slight yelp as his vocals end. It’s my “woo.” It comes at the end of Dave’s most passionate set of vocals—one of the best things about the song—and it completely overshadows everything that preceded it. It doesn’t matter that the piano solo that follows his vocals stretches on about four minutes too long, and the song avoids its own ending to its own detriment. Because of that small yelp, this is my favorite version of one of my favorite DMB songs. It’s the little things, man.

9. Louisiana Bayou, Red Rocks (9-12-2005)

There are certain recurring themes and subjects in Dave’s lyrics. There’s the “seize the never know what tomorrow might bring” theme (found in “Tripping Billies”, “Pig”, “Lie in Our Graves”, “You Never Know”, and about 23 other songs), and then there’s a slight offshoot—the general “let’s sing about death” theme found in “Grace Is Gone” and, among others, the two best songs on Stand Up. There’s “Hello Again”, a super-delightful romp (seriously) with lyrics like “Sinnin' I've done my share of this/Still I hope the Lord forgive me my sins/Ten years ago down by the lake/I saw my sweet love in her watery grave.” And then there’s “Louisiana Bayou”.

No no, momma now, devil don't do-si-do
Two young boys lyin' dead by the side of the road
The coins in their eyes represent the money they owe
No judge or jury ever gonna hear the story told


Sweet girl daddy done beat that girl like he's insane
Brother can't watch him beat that girl down again
So late one night cookin' up with a couple of friends
Swears his daddy never gonna see another day


Money on the bed but you ain't got to go
Sold your soul just trying to get over low
No empty pocket gonna keep you from getting yours
No judge or jury ever gonna hear the story told
The album version is pretty enjoyable—it’s always been one of my favorite songs from the album. However, the live version is, to use a word William Miller did in Almost Famous (since I just saw most of the movie and all), incendiary. It’s a powerhouse. Upon its 2005 introduction into the DMB catalog, “Bayou” almost immediately became a favored show closer. During portions of the 2005 tour, Robert Randolph & the Family Band opened for DMB, and Randolph—pretty incendiary himself—sat in on this song and brought the band to a rarely-achieved level.

Since the end of the 2005 tour, trumpeter Rashawn Ross has been sitting in with the band, and his presence, though subtle, is felt the strongest on “Bayou”. It both sounds like something DMB has never done before and sounds like something no other band could do. A major step forward. And even though much of Stand Up was average at best, moments like this make me excited about where DMB is going.

10. The Idea of You, Fenway Park (7-8-2006)

Last summer, DMB became one of only a few bands to have played Fenway Park. They played two nights on July 7-8, and the shows were released last fall. This set is further proof that there was something about the Stand Up sessions that significantly energized this band. With Ross and keyboardist Butch Taylor (who has been accompanying the band on stage since, I believe, late-1999), the band ripped through two diverse sets, playing old stuff, so-new-it’s-not-yet-been-recorded stuff, and an interesting selection of covers. When I was driving to work a few months ago after breaking this out, I almost ran off the road when the opening notes to “Sweet Caroline” began (It’s Fenway—you have to play “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway, I guess), and was even more taken aback by the absolute note-perfect rendition that followed. I almost chose that song to represent this release, and I almost chose “Say Goodbye” simply because it’s been a long-time favorite, but as purely an illustration of where the band mind and spirits were last summer, I’m choosing “The Idea of You”.

At this stage last July, “Idea” was still pretty rough. For songs like this—songs that get road-tested before the band has truly figured them out—you get some mumbling from Dave in places where he hasn’t totally decided on the lyrics. However, two things about this song make it Primer-worthy: a) the soaring chorus (the only part of the song that was truly set in place at this point), and b) the “Just so you know, I love that song” comment Dave makes afterward. I’ve never heard Dave say anything like that in a live show before (and I’ve heard easily over 200 of them), and I think that says more about the band’s state of mind than the feeling about this particular song. And that, in turn says a lot about the future of the band. To me, at least.

The Dave Matthews Band is getting ready to head to Australia for a series of shows. Bassist Stefan Lessard interviewed with the Brisbane Times recently and had this to say about recent recording sessions (via “We’re on a bit of a creative break as far as working in the studio – we’ve been in pre-production for a long time, but we’ll get more serious later in the year.”

The original goal, as it was reported, was that these ‘pre-production’ sessions would result in an album to be released this summer, but it didn’t work out that way. The worrying type might fear that this could be another down time like the 2000-2001 Lillywhite Sessions/Everyday period, but considering how happy the band was on tour the last couple of years, and considering that they never seem to get things recorded in the hoped-for time period, I guess I won’t read into the news too much. But for any reader who has made it to this point, you don’t really need to worry about a new album—just enjoy the 10 songs I’ve mentioned here.

I mentioned in a previous Primer that Mos Def & Talib Kweli were my 'gateway drug' to a lot of other underground hip hop. If that's the case, Dave Matthews Band were my gateway drug to live music, the taper culture, bands with alternate instrumentation, the heaven that is Charlottesville, VA, and jam bands. Not bad. My appreciation of their music rises and sinks slightly depending on the latest album, but their impact on my taste is pretty well-proven at this point.

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