Music is a universal connector, a time machine, an instigator, a soother, a social commentator, a romantic, a collection of vibrating sound waves identified by twelve notes. I watched all of that come together Saturday night at a Dave Matthews Band concert.
I will not proclaim him to be the god of music and he is not and probably will never be my favorite artist, but my introduction to his live show has opened the door to explore for more. His style is a seamless integration of many styles and influences; those I could identify include rock, pop, jazz and classical. The audience at this particular concert was younger than I expected and included mostly those in their thirties and twenties. There were times when it seemed as though the entire crowd of 20,000 fans were singing along, connected collectively by his lyrics and individually to a time point in each person’s past.
The crowd would leap from their seats at the sound of the opening notes of one song and a little while later a smooth, soothing melody would wash over the pavilion settling everyone back into their seats.
I know only a handful of his songs, so what impressed me the most is his and his band’s pure dedication to music. During their long, signature jams, the musicians would often pair off in what appeared to be an improvised back and forth interplay. Unlike the old jam bands of the 70s who took off on tangents that went nowhere, this bunch takes the audience on a meandering journey while at the same time never losing a single beat of the relentless groove of the song; and no matter how far they stray from the original song structure, they always resolve back to where they started. Damn!!! How do they do that?!
My usual favorite music is blues and country because the heart and soul of that art form is a simple story. The music in a country song is often great, but it plays a supporting role to a tale of real life.
DMB music is mostly complex and the lyrics seem to play a supporting role to the music. I could be wrong about that, however, and I’m going to explore his songs for meaning.
But what this concert mostly did for me is was to remind me how central music is to my life and how eclectic my music taste is. Set my iPod on ‘shuffle’ and you could hear Garth Brooks, Aretha Franklin, Mozart, ZZ Top, Sinatra, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Zeppelin, Mirabal and Dave Koz. Soon you could also hear Dave Matthews.