Thursday, July 25, 2019

Dave Matthews Band Field Trip

I’ve been on an amazing run lately. I mentioned that I won DC United tickets and tickets to the first home game for George Mason’s men’s basketball team for the 2019-2020 season. I also won passes for 10 at a piano bar in the DC Metro area. Last week, I had the radio on in the background when they mentioned that they were giving away tickets to see Dave Matthews Band (DMB). I called the number once, and it was busy, and called again, and had this conversation:

DJ: Hi. Who’s this?

Me: Sean

DJ: Where are you calling from today, Sean?

Me: Arlington

DJ: And what are you doing right now?

Me: Working

DJ: Well, hopefully you’re in somewhere air conditioned and staying out of the heat. You won two tickets to see Dave Matthews Band at Jiffy Lube Live. (Or something like this.)

Me: Nice

It was riveting radio. So after seeing DMB four times in the late 90s and early 2000s in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Darien Lake (between Rochester and Buffalo) and in Bristow, Virginia when the venue was still called Nissan Pavilion and before I had a blog, I was going to I see the band again for the first time in at least 15 years. This is the story of the concert:

My brother wanted some food before we got to the venue, and I figured that I could use a pre-concert desert, so we saw a sign for Sheetz at an I-66 exit and stopped there. While I realized too late that I should I purchased a milkshake, I was pleased with this selection:

I don’t think I’ve had Zingers since high school!

Let me vent for a second. Jiffy Lube is a fairly standard outdoor concert venue. There’s a covered area with seats in front and a giant uncovered lawn in the back. I had no idea where I was sitting after I won the tickets. The radio station didn’t know and neither did the venue. They both said to try will call at the day of the show since that’s when the radio station delivers the tickets. When I called will call, they said that they couldn’t give this information over the phone, only in person with an ID. This really isn’t practical. For seats, I just bring myself. For the lawn, you need a blanket and/or chairs. They suggested bringing chairs and then take them back to the car if I had seats. On a normal day, this is inconvenient. On this day, it was 100 degrees for the show with an excessive heat watch and a heat index of 110. I hoped that the station would give away actual seats, so I left the chairs in the car and walked at least a half mile from the lot to the front gate. After getting to will call and opening the envelope, I learned that I won...lawn seats. I was not turning around, especially after I accidentally left the blanket in the car. We were going to sit on the grass and/or stand! Anyway, I feel like it shouldn’t be too much to ask for the radio station to know where the seats they are giving away are located.

Minutes before I left for the concert (well before stopping at Sheetz) I found a 1999 DMB concert T-shirt that I haven’t worn in at least a decade in the back of my closet. My brother wore an orange Netherlands soccer jersey that he got in 2001. Together, our shirts were 38 years old which was older than the majority of the crowd!

Just thought I would mention that there was a lot of marijuana, vaping, and tattoos on the lawn. I have no point here, just wanted to state this for the record.

Maybe 30-45 minutes into the concert, I looked to the west and noticed that the sky was getting really dark. A few minutes later, Dave Matthews announced that they were temporarily stopping the show because a thunderstorm was coming through. Apparently, this was the third consecutive DMB show where this happened. Someone from the venue got on the microphone and said that the people in the covered seats could stay, but that the people in the lawn should go to their cars to seek shelter. Stupid radio station! We quickly went to paved walkway directly behind the seats and were joined by dozens of other friends. If it rained, we were probably going to stay dry. Probably. Meanwhile, some people decided to just stay on the lawn. That seemed like a dumb decision to stay on a giant lawn at the highest point in the area for a potential thunderstorm. Of course, that didn’t stop vendors from selling beer and water.

After maybe 20 minutes, the storm cleared or at least missed Jiffy Lube completely, and the show resumed.

Overall, the crowd was cool. You sort of expect that for a DMB crowd. There were a couple of guys behind us after the rain delay that we’re jerks though. At least one guy dropped his finished beer can on the ground, and of course it rolled against my back. Fortunately, it was empty. Not sure if is was the same guys, but Dave Matthews briefly addressed the crowd and said this:

"It's easy to hate, it's hard to love. We gotta find another way to talk to each other without guns and bombs because it's bull****."

Nothing controversial here, yet the guy behind us basically said shut up and play. This wasn’t Bono doing a diatribe like he was addressing Congress. Dave barely said much during the show. The guys moved a little later.

Near the end of the show, a different guy near me yelled for them to play Two Step. I thought this was a somewhat absurd request since (besides the fact that the band could never hear him) DMB has a deep catalog and don’t seem to have songs that they “must” play. (For example, I saw Smash Mouth at Celebrate Fairfax last month. People would be upset if they didn’t play All Star.) A few songs later, they closed with Two Step. Got me wondering if that’s a song they play regularly and often end the show on. Therefore, I contacted my friends and super DMB fans, Sista K and Paul. They have gone to (I believe) over 50 DMB shows. They also watched the concert via livestream and provided excellent nuggets about the show, set list, etc.

Regarding Two Step, they told me that the Jiffy Lube show was the 7th time they've played it out of 29 shows this tour. 5 of those times have been in the encore. I guess the guy near me just got really lucky that DMB played the song. Or they heard the guy yelling his request!

They also told me that Dave does the setlist each night before the show and looks at what he's played in the past few years at the venue. It seems like Dave uses analytics here. I’m guessing Smash Mouth doesn’t do this!

Personally, I was happy to hear Ants Marching and Jimi Thing. The Back In Black/Staying Alive/Fly Like an Eagle medley was a nice touch.

I think I’m not going to wait another 15 or so years again to see DMB again. I’m also going to know where I’m sitting before I go next time!

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