Article and Photos by Andrés Alvarado
“Let the good times roll” seems to be Dave Matthews‘ and his band’s mantra. Despite recent tumultuous news, it’s always an amusing affair when Mr. Matthews and his ensemble journey into town. His latest visit to Atlanta’s Cellairis Amphitheatre was no exception. Oh yeah, all the bells, all the whistles, happy-go-lucky aficionados, surprise guests, and, most definitely, a musical clinic unlike no other. With over 25 years experience, soon to be 9 albums, and over 70 live records, this Charlottesville troupe will not cease to deliver sheer excellence.
On this pleasant evening, the house is packed and counting down the seconds till the party gets going. At a quarter past eight, Dave walks on the dais, as his mates follow along. Standing on the receiving end of deafening cheers, the gang gets ready, the lights brighten, and the pageantry commences. Through latest single “That Girl Is You,” Dave opens up the festivities and offers onlookers both a tiny taste of the new upcoming record, Come Tomorrow, and a large dosage of his underused, yet engaging, grit-permeated falsetto.
As the evening carried on, DMB provided exactly what is expected from a musically gifted and hefty-budgeted crew. Dave Matthews Band co-founders, bassist Stefan Lessard and drummer Carter Beauford brought their A-game to A-town and assisted in creating an intoxicating and uplifting atmosphere. Of course, Tim Reynolds’ guitar, Rashawn Ross‘ trumpet, Jeff Coffin‘s saxophone gave the band’s efforts additional oomph and beauty; however, a lot of focus was placed on newbie Buddy Strong and his keys prowess. Replacing newly departed Boyd Tinsley in not an easy task; more so when it’s sudden and for a crew with as much notoriety as DMB. While a bevy of fans were initially skeptic, the dude has chops, the dude won them over. No doubt about it!
Among other highlights were Widespread Panic‘s lead-guitarist Jimmy Herring‘s cameo for anthems “Satellite” and “#41” (which catapulted an already enthusiastic crowd into emotional overdrive), the massive sing-along for “Typical Situation,” Beauford’s gnarly drum solos, and, of course, Dave Matthew’s unquestionable showmanship.
In the end, the ceremony flowed superbly and smoothly to the tune of nineteen tracks, nearly three hours, and over eighteen thousand diehards. To witness the Dave Matthews Band in their element is to witness legends at work. Make no mistake, after nearly three decades in the biz, this Virginia septet still has plenty of jamming left in them to offer. After all, thousands of fans onsite and millions across the world cannot be all wrong, right? Cheers!