City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Dave Matthews Band benefits from a year in the woods


Dave Matthews lets out a trademark yelp at Aaron's Amphitheatre Tuesday night. Photo credit: Raymond Hagans

In their football jerseys and T-shirts, the current touring lineup for the Dave Matthews Band looked more like a bunch of weekend warriors than a collective of world class musicians. Appearing fit, rested and ready for anything, the super group, which formed in 1993, played to a packed crowd at Aaron’s Amphitheatre Tuesday night, May 22.

They began an extensive summer tour last weekend that will end at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in September and have plans to release their eighth studio album later this year with longtime collaborator Steve Lillywhite as skipper.

Opening the show with the tender and emotional ballad “Sweet,” Matthews kept a level of quiet reserve for about the first hour of the performance meandering into “Grace is Gone” and “Save Me.” There was no Steve Martin-esque banter and very little of the frontman’s trademark pigeon-toed twist. The crowd, many who had been tailgaiting in the parking lot hours prior, was respectful and reverent but you could tell they wanted more — and that the liquor was taking its toll.

By the time they launched into the fiery track “Don’t Drink the Water,” the audience of 16,000 loyal fans was growing pretty restless. The combination of a stellar light show designed by Fenton Williams, drummer Carter Beauford’s ever-present positive attitude and Matthews’ grindhouse shriek helped deliver the goods. Serving up crowd favorite “Jimi Thing” sealed the deal and the evening soon evolved into a sing-along.

The undeniably charismatic Matthews peered into the front rows and said, “You look good tonight, and I’m not saying that because I feel like I have to. I really mean it.”

With those words, he’d continue the show with putty in his hands. “You and Me” provided the requisite romance for the evening as couples slow danced and serenaded one another.

“I like being in Atlanta because it’s sort of like home,” said Matthews. “I married a Georgia peach, but she wouldn’t really like me calling her a peach. She’s a tough one.”

Matthews’ wife, Ashley Harper, grew up in Atlanta. They have three children, and her parents were even on hand for the evening.

Closing the two-and-half-hour set with frat anthem “Ants Marching” allowed violin player Boyd Tinsley to strut and set everyone up for a nice, solid encore that lasted another twenty minutes or so. Lead guitarist Tim Reynolds was stellar, as always and Jeff Coffin on saxophone and Rashawn Ross on trumpet filled the gap left by the dearly departed LeRoi Moore. Stefan Lessard on bass is the perfect first baseman and anchorman.

Elated and filled with a “that just happened!” attitude, everyone apparently went home happy and hopeful for the road warriors’ return.

Set List


You Might Die Trying

Grace Is Gone

Eh Hee

Seek Up

Save Me

Shake Me Like a Monkey




Don’t Drink the Water

Out Of My Hands

Jimi Thing

You and Me

Funny the Way It Is


Ants Marching


Pantala Naga Pampa


7 comments Add your comment


May 23rd, 2012
1:10 pm

Spot on review of a wonderful show!


May 23rd, 2012
4:30 pm

I’m 35 and I was at the show. I felt real old sitting in the lawn with thousands of high school kids. Many of which cared less for the music, more about be social and meeting up on the lawn. Truth be told, I though Phillip Phillips rocks harder on American Idol last night than Dave Mathews did in the ATL! HA!@


May 24th, 2012
8:05 am

Just an fyi…sounds like a good show!!


May 24th, 2012
10:12 am

Good reporting. Thanks for your skills and talent. Keep up the good work.


May 24th, 2012
3:50 pm

I agree with the assesment of the crowd. Especially on the slow songs, it was difficult to hear from all the talking. It seems the younger people are not as respectful and dont really like listening to a great band perform. Set was pretty good though I wish they had performed Crash Into Me.

Musicians were first class


May 25th, 2012
2:59 pm

I’ve been to many DMB concerts since 1999, and this was a very solid show. I agree that the year off was good for them, and the band is at a great point in their career – they have a very deep catalog now and the core bandmembers have been playing together for 20 years, which results in great musicianship and effortless chemistry. There are no egos on display.

I have to say I’m confused by the apparent trend of young girls drinking themselves into oblivion before the show even starts. I saw this also at the last DMB show at Aarons in 2010 – young ladies who need to be carried out of the amphitheatre before the band is even onstage. It’s crazy and more than a little sad. I like my beer but I know when to stop. Oh, and I’m also 41 years old.

Rich Rhodes

May 27th, 2012
5:33 pm

Guys, stop. A lot of musicians put on the same exact show, so that no matte when you go, you catch the exact same experience. The good news is you do, the bad news is nothing changes.

With DMB, every show is different, so if you’re up for it, you get to enjoy the dynamic of different set lists, different crowds, different approaches. If you aren’t game, go see Van Morrison. You’ll see the same set, without fail (albeit with no crowd energy, uniqueness, etc.)

Long story short, shut up. Get a good buzz in the parking lot, then go in and absorb the musicianship, which is ultimately like nothing you have seen before.