Band: Dave Matthews Band
Date: June 24-26, 2011
Venue: Bader Field in Atlantic City, NJ
Rating (5-star rating): 5
It had been a seven-month wait for me to see my favorite band. This time, I didn’t have to travel to Philly, Camden or Hershey to dance my ass off but instead ride my bike over to Bader Field and take in the show.
The three-night stand marked my 14th, 15th and 16th DMB shows with the 16th being potentially the greatest DMB show I’ve ever attended. Busting out covers, gems and songs we thought were dead, DMB rocked AC harder than expected.
Friday [setlist]: They kicked off the weekend with a good show on Friday. They played a pretty mainstream set with a few surprises tucked in. Opening four songs sounded like any typical festival with “Don’t Drink the Water,” “You Might Die Trying” and the “Proudest Monkey/Satellite” combo.
But it was the fifth song that shocked many hardcore fans: “Captain.” This song hasn’t been played since 2005 and is one of the best songs lyrically off the 2002 album “Busted Stuff.”
The band continued on with more typical festival-songs and even featured guest guitarist David Ryan Harris to come out on stage for “Jimi Thing.” They finally broke up the run with a song many people thought was new. Instead, it was a cover of Morphine’s 1994 song “Buena,” which featured a bari sax solo by Jeff Coffin.
After giving every woman in the audience an orgasm with “Crash Into Me,” Matthews brought out his tiny Gryphon guitar and played the opening chords to “Shotgun.” Much of the crowd stood frozen, either trying to figure the song out or too shocked to do anything (I was screaming like a girl). Once the band joined in on Shaotguns more familiar riff, the place blew up.
The encore was one of the coolest ones I’ve heard. A four-song set, Dave again came out with the Gryphon and played a beautiful rendition of Procol Harum’s “A White Shade of Pale.” The band then joined in on “Stay or Leave” and “Grey Street.” With one more song left in the tank, Tim Reynolds went Led Zeppelin on us and played the opening riff to “Good Times Bad Times.” The rest was history as they tore apart Zeppelin’s hit, musically and vocally.
Saturday [setlist] – Sasturday’s show was loose. Matthews messed up the 3rd verse in the opener “Big Eyed Fish” but recovered nicely with a powerful “Bartender.” They played Big Whiskey songs “Why I Am” and “Write A Song” (the latter being on a bonus EP) before going into a fantastic version of “Crush.”
The band then busted out another gem from 2006 in “Break Free” but left those who knew the song well with a lot to be desired. The band never fully transitioned into the big horn finish and second solo for Rashawn Ross, making the song go from a great piece to a mediocre pop song.
Saturday featured three guests. The first was Vusi Mahlasela on vocals for “Everyday.” You can hear his sweet voice on the studio album and is joins the band once in awhile to sing the song live, adding harmonies and dancing on stage with Matthews.
The second guest made his mark. Warren Haynes came out to play a little guitar. And while he walked out, I immediately crossed my fingers for the Neil Young cover “Cortez the Killer” but saw no mic stand for Haynes. Instead, they busted into one of my favorite songs in #41 and went on to play the best version of that song I ever heard. After Haynes slow and beautiful solo, he stepped it up into high gear and blew the crowd off it’s feet. Tim Reynolds than chimed in on guitar and the two proceeded to battle it out.
The third guest was percussionist Leon Mobley, who played with Damian Marley earlier in the day. He and Carter Beauford got into a heated battle during the show’s closer “Two Step.”
Sunday [setlist] – The final night of the three-night stand was the best night. The opening three-song run resembled a set straight out of 1994 with “Seek Up,” “Warehouse” and “What Would You Say.”
Another 2006 song made it’s triumphant return, this time the George Bush protest song “Kill the King.” The band jumped right back into the time machine and played “Granny.” They then busted out the best song off “Big Whiskey” in “Lying in the Hands of God.” Beauford and Coffin dueled endlessly on that song, bring the crowd to a loud crescendo twice in one sitting.
“One Sweet World,” “Tripping Billies,” “So Much to Say,” Too Much,” and the Bob Dylan cover “All Along the Watchtower” all got played in the main set to round out the 1994 dream set.
In between SMTS and “Too Much,” bassist Stefan Lessard started to play a very familiar riff. As Reynolds began to wail on the guitar, Aerosmith jumped into my head. And I was right as Matthews and the rest of the band began to sing “Sweet Emotion,” the newest cover to join the catalog. After the cover ended, they busted right into “Too Much.”
The encore was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Matthews came out with the electric and played “Some Devil.”The band joined him and Beauford started with a very distinct snare intro. But instead of leading into the band’s anthem “Ants Marching,” they responded to the chants up front for “Halloween” and blew the show wide open.
After that song rumbled to a close, “Ants” came back and Boyd Tinsley proceeded to solo like he did for the past 20 years – with braids flying, legs kicking and the world’s biggest smile on his face.
It seemed like that was it for the band but they were not done. Lessard kicked into the bass intro of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Agin)” and the band treated the crowd to one more song. Fans sang the song’s chorus as they departed Bader Field, over the Albany Ave. bridge and down to Atlantic and Pacific Ave with the locals watching in awe.
Yes, AC, we fucked your shit up this weekend. Let’ do it again soon.