Last Night: Dave Matthews Band at Cruzan Amphitheatre

Categories: Concert Review

Dave Matthews Band
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach

Better Than: Eating, drinking and being merry with a side of chocolate-covered weed brownies.

After what seemed to be the perfect return to West Palm Beach by the Dave Matthews Band Friday night, fans wandered back to the parking lot pondering how the group could possibly top such a mind-blowing concert at night two’s sold out show. Sure, the band jammed their hearts out to staple tracks like “Satellite,” “#41,” “Ants Marching” “Jimi Thing” and “Grey Street” but that was just a tasteful tease of what was in store for Saturday’s encore.

Up the Florida Turnpike and I-95 North, cars slowly pulled into a stormy scene at Cruzan, which had members of the Warehouse fully-equipped, clad in multi-colored ponchos, brewskis in hand. While some fans chose to head up to the muddy hill to begin DMB worship routines, others blazed up hot-box style – just like back in high school – waiting for drizzle mode to kick in. As South Florida’s rainy season (a.k.a. summer) was in full effect, die hard fans brought new meaning to a term printed on each and every ticket stub: rain or shine. At about 8:30 p.m., the clouds floated their separate ways and like clockwork, the rain subsided. Dave Matthews along with an upgraded band (Tim Reynolds on electric guitar and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones’ Jeff Coffin on sax) burst into a killer twosome from Before These Crowded Streets with “Don’t Drink the Water” and “Dreaming Tree,” accompanied by moony flute and trumpet solos to give fair warning that the show would be somewhat jazz-heavy, with a honeyed segue in to “One Sweet World” (Remember Two Things), and then it finally hit that all in attendance for night two were in store for another legendary fusion jam session.

Oh, but the crowd did sway, from side to side, indeed. DMB crooned the girls into falling in love with the band, once again, with “Crash into Me,” the title track off the 1996 Grammy catcher that pushed DMB further into the mainstream, only to grow a fan base of gargantuan proportions. As the gals giggled and twirled, eyes closed, the guys reminisced about their love-making days to their exs’. And as Boyd Tinsley brushed the violin, the moonlight jazz set had everyone feeling butterflies.

Throughout the course of the show, four different planes flew up above, as if pilots were alerting passengers of the notable summer jam gala taking over WPB. Soon after the soothing sounds of the first set, DMB paid personal tribute to the economy, proving strength through the power of song with the Money medley. Strumming through the intro to Pink Floyd’s Money, Tim Reynolds paid tribute to Dark Side of the Moon with his own rendition of unorthodox time signatures and a nastified solo that transported everyone from the recession back into a time of ‘70s progression. The band followed up by rocking out to Motown chart-topper “Money (That’s What I Want),” juxtaposing the clear fact that the current economic status was the last thing on anyone’s mind that night. Slipping into “Pay For What You Get,” which Matthews said is about getting too tangled in the web of what we call “the good life,” Dave did his thang, proving he’s on our side.

Blasted by the monetary musical, it was a true guessing game as to what would come next. As “Crush” exploded from the stage, the beat-up grassy knoll was suddenly alive from the groove. A true jamfest ahead, Reynolds got down and dirty on the guitar spitting riffs that had the crowd soaring high, paralleled by Coffin’s impromptu craziness on the sax. The head to head solos were an amazing addition to this leg of the fest-infested tour. The masters of music kept at it, Dave breaking for story time during hits from Stand Up, “Old Dirt Hill,” a song about Dave’s old tokin’ days as a boy, and the band brought Southern flavor to the rockabilly blues with a hit of “Louisiana Bayou.”

DMB winded down (if you could even call it that) with a hint of the darkness on “Gravedigger” and brought things back to life with “Some Much to Say” and “Too Much”, and you could tell they were ready to call a wrap on the show after the 17th jam. Pumping one of the standout tracks of the evening, the cacophony brought it together for “Tripping Billies” and the tranquilized hill-crawlers pranced and danced with a signature unified chant, “You and me and all our friends/Such a happy human race/Eat, drink and be merry/For tomorrow we die....”

As the double dose came to a close, some of us willed for a reprise of “Watchtower,” – so, selfishly, I could see my modern-day Hendrix (Reynolds) gushing on the guitar. Easing into the encore, “Pantala Naga Pampa” was the anticipated transition into “Rapunzel,” as always, and Dave went full circle all the way back to the beginning on Before These Crowded Streets. A stellar close to another blowout DMB extravaganza, the music makers shut it down with Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” as Tim flossed his fingers through those strings like a nympho at work under the sheets and Dave ridded himself of his guitar to pump up the crowd, hands in the air “Hip-Hop Hooray” style.

It’s officially a decade since my first Dave show, and although the excitement of a rookie high school stoner has faded and my show attendance is well into double digits, it’s still the same ‘ol DMB, just a bit more informed this time around (them and me both).

- Tracy Block

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