It was a sticky South Florida summer night when Dave Matthews and his band hit Cruzan Amphitheatre for the first of two evenings of world sounds, straight jamming, and displays of great instrumental prowess.
The entire crowd was dripping with sweat, so it's no surprise that by the end of the show, poor Dave was soaked. We didn't envy his spot under those glaring lights. Matthews cracked jokes with the crowd, smirking as he said, "This humidity is messing with my hairstyle." And man, it certainly was.
When thinking of Cruzan, our minds go directly to Warped Tour and those days when we were young enough to go to shows without feeling like someone's older sister. When we discovered our seats were located in the coveted pit, a friend started talking about mosh pits. We assured him there would be no moshing at a DMB show.
The audience was a mix of families, lovers, stoners, and die-hard fans who travel around the country with the band to attend every show possible. Some guy in the crowd was bragging about how this was his 14th show this year. We don't even know if that's possible, but so he claimed as he held onto his oversized can of beer.
The sweet stench of pot was plentiful as the show started, and good ol' Dave got things going with "So Damn Lucky." The night included a two-part set; first was acoustic, and next was electric. The band played a mix of songs from Away From the World, Under the Table and Dreaming, and Big Whiskey and GrooGux King, and several covers. Matthews has such a huge catalog of songs to choose from, so it's a little like, why bother playing covers? But it's a thing, so we swayed along.
He pleased the crowd with some of his most beloved songs, including "Crash Into Me," "What Would You Say," "Sweet," and "Rhyme & Reason." All of these were played during the first half of the show, the acoustic set. It was intimate and relaxed, while the latter half of the night was more energetic, including laser effects and trippy visual backdrops but, most important, big guitar.
By the end of the evening, Matthews was practically limping offstage. He'd mentioned early on in the show that his back was killing him but said he was still thrilled to be there. No pussy, Dave manned up and played both sets like a boss. This included his showing off some dance moves that were, needless to say, a little silly.
We have to admit half of the stuff he said we really couldn't understand. But we weren't alone. Looking around the crowd during the parts when Matthews was chatting, half the time no one knew what he was saying. He's a bit of a mumbler, but everyone was so excited that they screamed like happy lunatics to whatever he delivered.
It was obvious Matthews loves what he does. You could catch him smiling at his bandmates and just getting lost in it as Tim Reynolds or Boyd Tinsley jammed out. He'd close his eyes briefly and soak it all up -- or maybe he was just thinking about his back pain. It looked like genuine enjoyment.
He humbly and constantly thanked the crowd for being there, pointing out the members of his band and the Lovely Ladies (back-up singers). He looked honored to share the spotlight with all of them.
Despite the old-man back problems, when the show was over, he made his way over to some of his fans in the very front, shaking hands and signing posters before leaving the stage. Drummer Carter Beauford tossed several sets of drumsticks into the crowd and signed a few posters himself before the stage cleared.
Of course, no one left and everyone cheered and stomped their feet, making as much noise as possible. Dave and the guys didn't disappoint. The group returned for an encore, jamming out to two more songs, "Some Devil" and "Why I Am," never parting quietly or without fully pleasing their loyal followers.
Dave Matthews Band Setlist
"So Damn Lucky"
"Slip Slidin' Away" (Paul Simon cover)
"Crash Into Me"
"Rhyme & Reason"
"Stolen Away on 55th & 3rd"
"What Would You Say"
"Belly Belly Nice"
"Long Black Veil" (Lefty Frizzell cover)
"Sledgehammer" (Peter Gabriel cover)
"Why I Am"
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