Written by Tanya Pedersen
May 18, 2012 at 08:00 PM
ImageMaybe it was the fact that it was May instead of the usual late summer date; maybe it was the fact that Dave and the boys hadn’t been around Houston for a good spell and chose us as the starting point of the tour; but more than likely,  it was merely the fact that it was the Dave Matthews band that had the crowd at Cynthia Woods so ready to sing, dance, and get high… be it high on life, high with anticipation, or just high.  It was a wonderfully mild weathered and breezy Friday night, and the audience both in seats and on the hill was abuzz with eagerness to listen to and sing with DMB.

They opened with Big-Eyed Fish, and it was immediately evident just how much these lambs atop the hill missed their shepherd. The crowd swayed, sang, and puff-puff-passed as one. None of this is a surprise to any DMB fan or concert-goer. As Dave and company got into their groove, they played “Funny the Way it is” and “Grace is Gone”. They followed up with “Eh Hee”, which was only ever recorded live, and isn’t a normal staple for the DMB crew. Although they were caught a bit off guard, the fans seemed pleased, and it was a great tune. Personally, I absolutely loved this song.

One of my favorite times of the night actually had nothing to do with music. Dave was obviously feeling fine and started talking about birthdays, and how (in a really high-pitched voice) “Statistically speaking” there had to be so many birthdays in the house. Of course, anyone that had a birthday anywhere close to May 18 went nuts. He said “happy birthday to you…Love each other, embrace each other, and say happy mother-fuckin’ birthday, ya’ll!” His “statistically speaking” line lasted throughout the night, and was quite funny, especially since the later it got, the sillier he was and the funnier the so-called statistic was.

I’m not sure how many people were aware of the fact that some behind-the-scene changes had taken place that would change up the show a bit. Gone were the usual covers they often played. The boys played several new songs, including a brand spanking new single, “Gaucho”. This song had just been made available to download to fan club members earlier in the day. Even though I really liked the song, I think that swaying from the normal line-up kind of caught fans off guard, and it was during these songs that the crowd chose to hit the head, made a bee-line to the beer stand, or attempted to have a conversation with the person next to them.

There is no denying the musicianship of this band. Since most of them have been playing and touring with each other for 20 years, they have become quite like a married couple. They anticipate each other’s moves, and work like a well-oiled machine. Boyd plays the violin like no other, Beauford is a top-notch drummer, and DM and Stefan work the guitar and bass incredibly. Plus, I’m a sucker for great acoustic guitar playing, which DM plays like a champ. When they played “Don’t Drink the Water”, the music sounded incredibly full, but even while all band mates were playing I could single out and appreciate individual instruments.

There is one thing about Dave Matthews that I absolutely love- when he is playing, he makes it obvious that he is living in the moment… there is no past, no future, only  this moment, the music and the crowd is important. Maybe it’s his “herbal supplements”, but he gets completely wrapped up into what he is doing on stage, feels the vibe of the audience and feeds off it.

I think my one real complaint of the night was that we had to wait a ridiculously long time for the encore, which consisted of Squirm and Grey Street. I’ve never seen such a long break between the show and encore. I think the crowd felt it as well. Many got tired of waiting and left.  That being said, it was the first night of the tour, and I’m sure there were kinks to work out.  My personal top picks for the night were “Eh Hee”, “Grace is Gone”, and “You and Me”. Overall, it was a solid show, and I would love to catch them again later in the summer once they’ve played a few more times and are completely back to their touring “A” game.