Camden has been a strong destination for Dave Matthews Band the past few years.
2009 and 2010 concert goers at the Susquehanna Bank Center were treated to four fantastic shows in one of the most underrated concert venues on the east coast.
But after a year off from the venue, it seemed that the band lost some of the magic it was creating in the city of New Jersey closest to Philadelphia.
The band played well at both shows, and maybe it’s just the fact both shows were my 17th and 18th career DMB concerts that create these feelings. But either way I will try my best to look at this objectively.
Starting out, Tuesday’s show was a little rough. The DMB staple “Seek Up” was mixed into an opening five songs that included “Everyday,” “Eh Hee,” “Seven,” and “Where Are You Going.”
Though the show did feature treats in “Minarets,” “Typical Situation,” and an acoustic “The Space Between,” downer songs such as “Cornbread,” “Spaceman” and their stale cover of “All Along the Watchtower.”
Fans were able to get first listens of the new songs on their upcoming album, “Away From the World,” that comes out September 11. Those songs include leading single “Mercy” and the first released studio cut by the band on their website, “Gaucho.” Both songs translated well in the live setting.
Wednesday’s show was surely set up to be a better night than the first. But the show never got off the ground.
The set featured way too many down songs, killing momentum built up by the faster paced songs sprinkled throughout the show. “Grace Is Gone,” killed the opening punch brought by “Shake Me Like A Monkey,” as well as “Out of My Hands,” Proudest Monkey,” and “You & Me,” all coming after heavy-hitting songs.
They played two more songs off the upcoming album, including “If Only,” and the debut of “The Riff.” I will tell you right now that “The Riff” is the best of the new songs so far.
The last eight songs of the show did deliver an incredible punch.
Dave’s opening riff on “Dancing Nancies” woke the crowd back up. The fact it led into one of the band’s anthems “Warehouse” kept the good energy going.
The band then busted into a lengthy horn jam during the instrumental part of “Jimi Thing” to follow. A revamped “Everybody Wake Up” left the crowd a little puzzled before the band finished the main set with “Two Step.”
The encore was half surprise, half expected but 100 percent awesome. The band played a lengthy 13-minute version of “So Damn Lucky” that featured the crowd singing a Sly & the Family Stone tune “Thank You” during the song’s outro.
Drummer Carter Beauford then started a mini drum solo that led into a loud and frenzied version of “Halloween” before the band neatly segued it into “Tripping Billies,” ending the two-night stand on an incredibly hight note.
The most important part of the shows were the fact the band had fun as well as most of the crowd. A frequent concert goer like myself would leave with an empty feeling after a two-night stand like that, but as someone who still enjoys seeing the band live there were no regrets to paying the money to see my favorite band perform every year.
Here’s to hoping the shows get better as the tour picks up speed. Have fun in Hershey tonight, folks!