Friday, August 31, 2018

Full Show Friday: Dave Matthews Band SPAC 7/14/18

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's. These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week...Dave Matthews Band!

Some months our Full Show Friday's will focus on specific artistsyearsvenues, festivals or some combo of it all. This month we focus on summer concert standby's who always played the picturesque Saratoga Performing Arts Center over the years. 

August always makes RtBE think of upstate New York, specifically the town of Saratoga. Going to high school just a few miles from the town, we would spend many August days at the beautiful horse track and hot nights in the state park watching bands from all over. A few years back we presented shows from the venue itself This month we will highlight some bands who always seemed to roll through and we (mostly) got to see live.

Last time we did this series focused on SPAC we started with DMB and as much as it pains us, we need to end with him this month. Perhaps no one seems to typify SPAC summer shows more than Dave Matthews Band over the last 25+ years.

That said, I could care less about the band....So I will leave it up to RtBE's editor to write a bit about DMB at SPAC (and other places) in 1997 (and 1994). You can to read it below while listening to a more recent set from the band. Just click that Read more buton to get started.

Pro Shot, Pro Sound, Enjoy:

Dave Matthew Band – Saratoga Performing Arts Center, June 6, 1997

Under normal circumstances, writing a concert review more than 20 years after experiencing it can be a daunting proposition. One would be inclined to focus on the venue—particularly when it’s the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. SPAC, as everyone well knows, is a gorgeous, overbuilt Shakespearean theater at the edge of the Adirondacks. It begs to be revered as an oasis of class in an otherwise doomed corner of the country.

But the rustic elegance of SPAC is not what we remember of our first visit, courtesy of the Dave Matthews Band in June 1997.

Beautiful though SPAC may be, we had the strange experience three years earlier of cutting our teeth on the Dave Matthews Band in August 1994, at Red Rocks, in a show that would launch his first live album and by any estimate, stand as his finest. In later years we would hear DMB aficionados (yes they exist, and they are to be avoided), compare Dave at Red Rocks to The Who at Woodstock…Bob Dylan at Budakon…and other such ludicrous assessments. The Red Rocks show was rather so breezy and fun and accessible and agreeable to all people that it gave a preview of what music was destined to become in the later years of streaming: pleasant background noise. It was perfect white noise for people too busy to focus. And while the genre of “really good background noise” may be universal, today, it was a rarity for the grunge era. It hit like an innovation and made Dave very, very commercially successful. This is all to say that we were at the best show Dave Matthews ever did and we don’t remember one moment of the music. We remember one thing: Red Rocks. And only the weirdest and most unexpected of artists can add anything to the majesty of one of the big man’s finest earthly creations—and Dave has never done anything unexpected.

So in the shadow of Red Rocks, we don’t remember being bowled over by the structured and controlled elegance of SPAC.

One would then, 20 years later, be inclined to remember the music. Again, it’s the Dave Matthews Band. If you’ve heard his albums you’ve been to his shows.

Instead, the thing that struck us most then, and now, about DMB in 1997 was his sudden cultural impact. It warrants remembering how big Dave was.

By the latter half of the 1990s, Dave Matthews had inherited the torch for American Summer Nights.

Jerry Garcia was dead. The Allman Brothers and Steve Miller Band toured heavily but belonged to another generation. Phish never took up enough real estate on the FM airwaves to last in the collective conscience. They would roll into and out of town like the circuses of yesteryear.

So for a brief moment in the late 1990s, between Red Rocks in 94 and the insufferable football stadium tours that commenced in 1998, Dave Matthews was the thing. He was more than music. Summer belonged to Dave Matthews.

The album Crash—with its peeping tom ballads and songs like "Say Goodbye" (about persuading a female friend to indulge in a one night stand)—was the closest thing to a romance album the era had. Crash came out in 1995. Romance was dead. Depression was universal. The stock price on “free love” never fully recovered from AIDS. The rise of “grunge couture”—rife with corduroy and flannel shirts—meant that girls dressed in a way that bore a striking resemblance to Minnesota farmers. It was not an age that inspired friendly, carefree relations between the sexes.

Dave Matthews didn’t care about any of that.

He wrote breezy songs about pot and sex and everyone sort of remembered that those things were pretty cool…and they resonated, especially with women. You could see it at his shows. You experienced it when you’d put Crash on the CD player and witness a total change in demeanor among the girls in the room. Dave had something on par with Barry White for American country (aka white) teenagers. And a great case could be made that DMB got more awkward (white) teenage boys laid than Frank Sinatra—and while there aren’t awards for that, that is no small feat.

But again, if we digress from our editor’s stated purpose, it’s because we have a very, very different memory of Dave Matthews at SPAC in 1997. And it involves the importance of being skeptical of television commercials.

We were 17, then, and everything would have been fine if Owen—our friend since nursery school—hadn’t persuaded us that the world portrayed in beer commercials was a real place.

That somewhere, out there, far beyond our homes in the Adirondack wilderness, average men like us were living extraordinary lives. Lives that were at one with nature and saturated with beautiful women who always wore bikinis and who just wanted to bend over, pull Coors Lights from rivers, and pass them around.

That world existed. It was right there on the television set, alongside the evening news and football games. Crisp rivers. Sunny days. Women who never heard of Joan Dideon.

This ardent belief goes some way toward explaining why, at 17, in the final weeks of high school and at a loss for how we would buy beer at SPAC, we came upon the idea of persuaded a 20-something Upstate townie to buy us beer a week before the show, which we then put in a river in the woods. Where it sat for 7 days.

This struck us as a sound idea because beer was always being kept cold and fresh in the Mountain Rivers of Coors commercials. The night before the concert, we traipsed through the woods with flashlights and recovered our beer from our river, which we then transported to SPAC well ahead of the show, before security arrived, and sequestered it under the footbridge in the creek by SPAC.

And the following night Dave Matthews took the stage, and under the darkness of a Saratoga night, as others visited the beer stand, we went down to the creek, and proceeded to chug Old Milwaukee longnecks, one right after the other, all through Bela Fleck’s opener. All through Recently. Typical Situation. "Tripping Billies". Right up through "Ants Marching".

Because we had heard Dave Matthews before. Everyone had. He was universal. But nobody had ever drunk extremely warm and corrupted swamp beer from a fringe creek at SPAC. That experience is not universal, because most people are too smart for that—which is why they are unhappy and unpleasant to be around. But while there were none of the television’s promises: no crisp beer, no clean river shores, and certainly no girls in bikinis at the creek under the footbridge at SPAC, there was instead a raging case of alcohol poising to be experienced on the other side of that June night in 1997—and the simple lesson that the dumbest things you have ever done are in all likelihood the only things you will ever remember.

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