Milwaukee's still lovin' Dave Matthews Band
Dave Matthews brought the party to Milwaukee tonight in lieu of his traditional two day summer jam at Alpine Valley Music Theatre. That wasn't the only big change. After spending more than two decades on the road, Dave Matthews Band decided to change up its summer 2014 tour.
"A Special Night With Dave Matthews Band" takes a combination of what the set lists used to be for one night alone -- acoustic or electric -- and brings them into one show being performed every night.
Wednesday's show started out with a very, very long line outside of the Marcus Amphitheater to get in - which is very rare for a show there. Some said the gates weren't opened on time, but that was not confirmed at press time. The show kicked off around 7:30 p.m. and people were still trying to get through the gates and into their seats.
Dave's opener was, well, Dave. The acoustic set kicked off with "Slip Sliding Away" which seemed appropriate as a light rain was falling on the Summerfest grounds. He made the obligatory jokes about cheese -- actually freezing cheese -- and noted it had been quite a long time since he was in the Amp.
The acoustic set lasted about an hour and included "So Damn Lucky," "Rhyme & Reason," "27," "Stolen Away on 55th & 3rd" and more. The band's "Lie in Our Graves" was one of the highlights of the set and was the first song the crowd really got into. Boyd Tinsley's skills on the violin were on display front and center and the song's musical interlude in the middle had the crowd fully raptured at that point.
The other highlight of the acoustic set was "Sweet," which Dave shared he wrote when he was supposed to take his son swimming that day -- and instead went back to the hotel room to write the lyrics for it. Tsk, tsk, Dave. However, the crowd's love for it shined brightly and everyone was singing along.
The set ended with "Ants Marching" from their 1994 album "Under the Table and Dreaming." Dave has said "This song is our anthem" in the past -- and the crowd surely felt the same as they loudly sang the lines "People in every direction / No words exchanged, no time to exchange" during the fourth verse before heading to break.
The electric set opened with "Minarets" just after 9 p.m. The teased intro for "The Stone" got everyone back in the Amphitheater quickly before leading into "Song that Jane Likes." It was a rare one to hear as it is not in heavy rotation on the band's touring set list.
Other songs during the beginning half of the electric set included "Save Me," "Crush" -- a crowd favorite for sure -- "Seven" and "Belly Belly Nice." Milwaukee was indeed crushing on Dave Matthews Band tonight -- especially when they started into "Warehouse."
The crowd at this point was split between those sitting and those standing -- and as one guy near me noted -- "Warehouse" is not a sitting song. The song got everyone up one their feet once again and dancing along with Matthews, who was smiling and dancing all night with his fans.
DMB's Grammy-winning "So Much to Say" segued into a short jam called "Anyone Seen the Bridge" and then a taste of "Too Much" -- all from the 1996 album "Crash." "What Would You Say" and "Grey Street" ended the electric set full of jams and dancing.
Matthews came back to out to the full amphitheater and kicked off the encore with "The Needle and the Damage Done" before the rest of the band joined him for "Drunken Soldier."
The song, his "letter to his babies," was a highlight of the night for me and has some of my favorite DMB lyrics.
"Make the most of what you've got
Don't waste time being trying to be something you're not
Fill up your head and fill up you heart and take your shot
Don't waste time trying to be something you're not"
The guitar-heavy funk song "Shake Me Like a Monkey" closed out the night with Matthews once again thanking Milwaukee for turning out.
I've seen Dave Matthews Band live once before (Wrigley Field) and was happy to see it at a slightly smaller venue such as the Marcus Amphitheater. There were a few comments through out the night that really nothing can compare with Alpine Valley -- especially for those who have been going to see the band there for years -- but the venue felt fine but for a few small things.
The two sets -- acoustic and electric -- really highlight the ability of Dave Matthews Band to take its music in so many directions and I love to see that versatility. Two sets also allow the band members showcase their talents -- and that stage is chock-full of talent.
Dave Matthews Band may be a group that you really love, are "eh" about or hate. To those leaning toward one of the last two, go see the group live. The energy, the smiles and showmanship could change your mind.
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