Summertime, although I dislike the hot parts, is always an exciting time of year, because it means that tickets for the Hamilton Musical open up early at that time!
Since the summer of 2000, I have been regularly attending Dave Matthews Band shows, usually with my very dear friend Jon, who is quite possibly the biggest DMB fan on earth (he’s the guy you call when you need the answer to a random DMB trivia question, or when you want the latest rumors on tour dates and setlists).
When Michael and I met in 2006, he was a little skeptical about going to see the band, but after his first show, he was a convert, and so he has been attending the shows as well ever since.
Typically, Dave plays two shows in Pittsburgh, back-to-back nights at Starlake Ampitheater (it has a new name now, but it changes hands so many times that I can never remember) in Burgettstown. In addition to that show, we usually try to make one road trip per tour, and as a result, I’ve seen Dave in a multitude of states and cities. When I lived in Cambridge, we got to see the show at the Tweeter Center, and when we lived in Los Angeles, we saw the Hollywood Bowl tour-closer (which was a disappointment crowd-wise: note to LA snobs, yes, I know it’s the Hollywood Bowl, but it’s Dave effing Matthews, STAND UP AND DANCE!).
Unfortunately for us fans, DMB has decided to take a year’s break in 2011, presumably to work on solo projects and maybe a new album, and I imagine Boyd will probably use the year to work some more on his sexy arms. And maybe Carter Beauford will go golfing with Jerome Bettis. And Dave will make obscure commercials for expensive clothing lines. Oh, and Stefan is going back to school. So yeah, even though we won’t get to enjoy them, they’ll still be busy (please please random shows because you miss touring, guys!).
With this in mind, we vowed to attend at least two DMB shows during the course of 2010, with the hopes of maybe even sneaking in a few more than that. Instead of playing two nights at Starlake, they will be playing only a single show in the ‘Burgh at PNC Park. Because of this, we decided our first show of the season would be one of our standard DMB road trip locations: Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
There are several important parts of a trip to the Blossom Music Center. The first is a stop at the Sheetz up the street for dinner:
Then you must eat your sandwich while in the car line to park. This sometimes takes a very long time, because you park in a literal cow pasture, complete with a random oil well (which is a nice landmark at the end of the night – all you hear is people saying, “We’re to the left of the oil well!” or “We’re behind the oil well!”).
Next, it’s important to play DMB on your car stereo while you wait for the doors to open. Everyone around us was playing Cornhole, but we don’t roll that way. As I am generally the one who drives us to shows, I can really only remember one time that we *actually* tailgated, and that was because our other DMB-obsessed friend Chris was driving.
Because we are fancy, we got the nice Warehouse tickets, and we got Pavilion seats. You deal with less drunk idiots in the Pavilion seating than you do on the lawn, and you can see the band better. Now that we are adults, we spring for the extra price.
This is me before the show started. The opener in Ohio was Martin Sexton, who is a musician I have very much adored for years and years. He played my absolute favorite song of his, “Gypsy Woman,” and I was a super excited mess, because that was clearly a good sign of what was to come from DMB.
The entire show was really, really amazing. I heard “Stay or Leave” live for the first time, which is a song off of Dave’s solo album, Some Devil. It is probably one of the best breakup songs ever written, and since, as everyone knows, I love sad music, it’s one of my favorites. We also heard a rocking “Cornbread,” complete with totally naughty lyrics, and “Recently,” which is one of those kind-of-rare dance greats. They busted out the old version of “Warehouse,” and closed the set with “Ants Marching.”
Then it was time for another DMB show tradition: bets on the encore. We like to bet on the opener, the closer, and the encore, and this night, I was hoping and praying to hear “So Right” at any point during the set. When Dave switched guitars, Jon looked at me and said, “THAT’S THE “SO RIGHT” GUITAR!” And it was so, SO right.
This was followed up with an extended “So Damn Lucky” (another Dave solo song that really takes flight live with Tim Reynolds on guitar) to close out the night. Probably one of my top three favorite shows, when all was said and done, so I was pretty excited.
And then, it was time for the other important part of a DMB show in Ohio: finding this random truck stop in the middle of nowhere to get breakfast food at 2am.
This started in 2006, when we went to the show and were stuck in the lot until almost 1am (after an 11pm encore) because cops had set up a sobriety checkpoint just outside the parking lot. As far as I know, we are among the only people in existence who do not drink at Dave shows, so you can imagine the delay this imposed. We were starving, and by the time we got out onto the highway, everything had closed for the evening.
By random chance, we pulled off the turnpike where a sign said ‘food,’ but wound up having to drive several miles away from the exit to even find the food. What we found though, was amazing.
Unfortunately, none of us were thinking enough that night to remember the name of the place, or the exit. We just knew it was somewhere between Cuyahoga Falls and Pittsburgh, and you could get a full plate of breakfast food for about $3.00.
This year, we were determined to find it again, so when we stopped for gas, I started Googling on my phone ‘truck stop’ anywhere near us. After a few minutes, I found something that looked vaguely like it was generic enough to be the one we wanted, so we pointed the Garmin in that direction and chanced it.