Photos by Brett Bergen.
Dave Matthews Band returned to Alpine Valley Music Theatre this past weekend after the previous summer tour had them making stops in Milwaukee and Chicago. Fans that made the trek to this beloved venue were more than eager to be back since it’s one of a handful of venues that showcase a multi night run by the band. As I made my way into the venue from the lots, the excitement that was exuded from everyone was contagious. If you haven’t seen this band perform before, they have changed around their performance to a two set format last summer with the first set being acoustic and the second set electric. The feel of the two set difference was much more noticeable last year, but the variety of songs being played in the first set this year has been widened greatly to a welcoming fan base.
Dave Matthews arrived on stage a bit after 7:30pm with a large roar from the crowd. He opened the evening with “Little Red Bird,” and the crowd stayed focused for the next song, “Rye Whiskey.” After that, the band flowed on stage and performed “Stay or Leave,” a relaxing ballad that the crowd sang their hearts out to. From there they played 7 more songs during the acoustic set that truly fired up the venue. With songs like “Spaceman,” “So Damn Lucky,” and “Typical Situation,” the first set did not disappoint.
When the band arrived back on stage, they opened the electric set with “Pig,” a beloved song by many, and you knew from there that you were in for a fun ride the rest of the show. The three songs that I photographed included the first song and was followed by “Big Eyed Fish” and crowd favorite “Lie In Our Graves.” The main set progressed with 13 more songs before taking one more break preceding the encore. Within the second set, the band played “Be Yourself” and “Virginia In The Rain;” both are new songs that are most likely going to be on the upcoming album. At the beginning of the tour, the reviews were mixed on the new songs that debuted, but over time the band has really gotten into their groove, and it seems like the fans are becoming much more receptive to the new additions to their catalog.
The final two songs of the night were just what was needed to close out an extremely solid and fantastic first night of their two-night run at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre. “The Best of What’s Around,” always a crowd pleaser, had everyone on their feet dancing while singing their hearts out. “Ants Marching” closed out the first night in proper fashion with one of the band’s famous lyrics: “Take these chances, place them in a box until a quieter time/Lights down, you up and die”.
No matter what your feelings are towards Dave Matthews Band, love them or hate them, you can’t deny the fact that they are a band that knows what they are doing, and they do it well. Their live shows are something not to be missed. If you haven’t seen them live and always have been curious to do so, don’t pass up the opportunity the next time they make their way through Chicago/Alpine Valley!