Man, I Used to Really Love Dave Matthews Band

Categories: Commentary

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Patrick Michels
Dave Matthews Band at the Superpages.com Center
In September 2000, a few days before Dave Matthews Band played with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones at Coca-Cola Starplex, I got into a car accident turning onto Inwood Road from Walnut Hill. My '99 Explorer was crunched, and the woman I hit injured her arm.

I sat on the curb, waiting for my parents to arrive -- one of the worst feelings I can remember. The woman's car smoked in the center of the road. There was broken headlight glass everywhere. And all I could think was: Am I going to miss Dave?

My name is Nick, and, man, I used to really love Dave Matthews Band.

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I had bootleg live albums burned onto countless CDs from Napster. I played Under The Table and Dreaming as loud as I could on my long drives to school. I wore out my double-disc copy of Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds' pluck-tastic Live at Luther College. And though I've tried to bury this fact under copies of Wilco, Rolling Stones and Neil Young, I can no longer deny it: I permanently learned Dave Matthews Band songs on the guitar.

Thirteen years later, I now know something important. An inconvenient truth: Dave Matthews Band isn't very good. In fact, they're terrible. Dying-pets terrible. No-bacon terrible.

Their music is bloated with overwrought melodrama. "Crush," a song that used to have a long-term lease in my head, opens with that cliche smoky bass and a flourish of saxophone. It's also eight goddamn minutes. It's like bad porn music.

Matthews' lyrics, meanwhile, meander, they're boring, and they're really on-the-nose in that Radioheady-man-is-a-cog-in-a-shitty-machine-way. Here is a sample:

"Television we bounce around the world / and while I spend these hours / five senses reeling / I laugh about the weatherman's satellite eyes"
"Lately I've been feeling low / a remedy is what I'm seeking / I take a taste of what's below"
"The space between / the tears we cry / is the laughter that keeps us coming back for more"
"When I'm walking by the water / splish splash / you and me taking a bath

On the album Everyday, they ditched their signature jam-band-sprawl sound, hired Glen Ballard and wrote a bunch of radio hits. It couldn't change the fact that Dave Matthews can't sing.

And those endless live albums: They pretended to be Pearl Jam good. Phish good. No. Stop. There's a 15-minute song on the album.

I possess no shame over my "Crash"-belting past. Everyone has guilty-pleasure music, albums you save for the long drives to remember that one smell in high school, the way the sky tasted in October when you were a kid. Sometimes it's nostalgia, others it's that campy, poppy song you want to blare and no one to know you've memorized every lyric and guitar bend.

It's a band I have to file away, stack in towers of CDs in some dusty storage box. Dave Matthews is my attic band.

I still made it to that Coca-Cola Starplex show in 2000, by the way. It's where I smoked weed for the first time, and I heard Bela Fleck play some wild banjo. That's a memory, at least.

Dave Matthews Band plays the Gexa Energy Pavilion tomorrow.

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59 comments
blindmusk
blindmusk

WOW!! This really spoke to me...I too was a Dave fanatic. I have come to the realization that, although I am not openly proud of this, Dave was everything to me in high school. It sounds so ridiculous to say out loud, or to type, but the fact of the matter is, I not only loved his music, I felt incredibility close to the man. He shaped my guitar style as well as my future music preferences. Following the release of Everyday, I stopped listening to "New Dave". His music was never the same after the release of that album. I was at the show in Dallas you mentioned in the above post. I had a bootlegged tape of the show that I wore out Ill never forget the 28 min version of Two Step they closed on that night. It was my first live Dave experience...first of many. 

Thanks for sharing!


Ben

bluewater41
bluewater41

Sometimes people should just STFU and stop spouting their opinion off as fact.  Different music appeals to different people.  No one person's opinion is any more relevant than anyone else's.  Stop pretending it is.  I despise country music, that doesn't mean it's bad music, just that it's not for me.  See what I mean?  STFU.

daleq
daleq

I like when people dislike something to sound like they know what they are talking about. They were one of a handful of decent bands in the wasteland that is radio.

ibrahimsapien
ibrahimsapien

"And those endless live albums: They pretended to be Pearl Jam good. Phish good. No. Stop. There's a 15-minute song on the album."

Wait till he realizes Pearl Jam isn't very good. I mean, one of their songs is actually titled "Love Boat Captain". Does drama get worse than that? 


Actually, I love Pearl Jam. And I love DMB too. For some reason, people feel the need to denigrate DMB, or are ashamed to say they're as good as they are. And yet, for well over a decade now, they've sold out arena after arena.

Jupiter_1
Jupiter_1

There is so much pain in this article... I cried a bit after reading through the negative comments. It is as though fifty dying men and women strolled upon the Fountain of Youth, but all eventually ran away mistaking the water for poison. The worst part is this entire page serves as a misleading sign saying, "Don't drink the water, there's blood in the water". Now many other withering men and women will avoid the fountain, never to taste the musical enlightenment that could quench a lifetime of thirst. 

johnnyhorton001
johnnyhorton001

Sorry you don't appreciate talented musicians.  More room for me to dance I guess.

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

The phrase "History Repeats Itself" is really true. The road is littered with bands that have had their fans turn their backs on them, only to return years later to find those same back-turners returning to the roost. For proof go back and read the review about the Nugent/Styx/REO Speedwagon show. So fast forward to 2025-2030 and all you folks that agree with Nick will be first in line to see the re-united DMB playing whatever album from front to back.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Never cared much one way or another about DMB, but Bella Fleck is 9 kinds of awesome.

mwgorman
mwgorman

Maybe your hatred towards DMB is more of a reflection of how you see yourself today? Failed and wasted talent, working for a publication trying to desperately rise above blog status? Only creative idea is to throw shit at one of the most popular musical acts in music history in order to create traffic?

Maybe you need to grow up and spend your time looking in the mirror more rather than writing pointless articles... Go back to driving school.

JustSaying
JustSaying

Back in 2000, one of my best friends was dating a girl that loved the Dave Matthews band. He had never heard of them, even at the height of their Mtv rotation fame. So he asked me to describe their sound to him. I should probably add that he is black and she was the first white girl that he ever dated. Given that criteria, I told him that the best way to describe their sound was "deal breaker". He laughed it off with a comment about how I tend to speak in hyperbole. I didnt own any "DMB" music so I could not give him the audio proof that he needed. All I could do was keep flipping to the alternative channel on my directtv satellite feed. When the inevitable Dave Matthews song came on, the first thing out of his mouth was "what the fuck is this shit?" Needless to say some decade later, blondey blonde is a faded memory.

For the record, they didnt break up because of her love of the Dave Matthews band. I would wager, however, that I played a part in roughly a million stink eyes given to her by him whenever she talked about music.

stoneman
stoneman

DMB was, and I guess still is, a good example of a "gateway band". They exist to lead you from one end of the spectrum to the next. Personally, I still was never too much into DMB but still have plenty on my wall of shame...Green Day, a smidge of Hootie, Offspring and then later acts like OAR and Jack Johnson...ugh, almost cathartic to speak of such things.

Let us not forget, our age at the time. Being 12, 15, 17...it's ok.

Like food, beer and types of women; we all need to experience these gateways to move on from the adolescent/stupid stage. It's just a matter of actually growing up and moving on, developing taste and so on. Unfortunately many don't and that's why people still think The Toadies or DMB are gods.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

"Terrible" is a strong word. You'd be mistaken to deny that there was some serious musical talent in DMB's lineup, especially in the rhythm section. I'd agree their sound is dated and the lyrics are a bit tedious, but I'd reserve "terrible" for acts like Hootie.

HeatherLeFey
HeatherLeFey

In 1996, I saw DMB play the Horde Tour in Las Cruces, NM. Lenny Kravitz started crying when a desert thunder storm hit, and left the stage after one song saying he, "didn't want to be electrocuted". The crowd chanted "rain or shine" for 40 minutes, then DMB came out and played Lenny's set , his, and an extra 30 minutes. The storm passed later in the set and put on quite the lightening show. At times, the music synced with the lightening, and during "Crash" it was quite the phenomenon. It is still one of the best shows I've ever seen. 

I never bought any DMB albums after 1999, and have since buried their CDs at the bottom of my collection. I'm not sure if my taste changed, but it just seemed like DMB never evolved musically. 

BTW, Hootie headlined that Tour (WTF?) and I barely remember them. I was in the back of the concert space shot-gunning Lone Star and talking shit.  



bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

In a couple more years, there will 90's night the same way we have those damn 80's nights now.  You won't hear Pantera, it will be the f'n DMB. 

gmit
gmit

Cheer UP ! 

When you really get old this will be true of everyone and everything that you once thought was "good"

Sad thing is the truth is our "good" is still 1000x better than the "good" of today that was inspired by the good or our day. EX: Kings of Leon, they are good for the current climate but none of them can really play and every song is a total formula based on mathematics 

In Full Disclosure: Metallica is my DMB, I can hardly stomach anything other than a few mostly instrumental songs, and live now? Forget about it ! James should hire a personal background screamer since he is too big of a pussy to blow out his voice, you know the one he uses to sing all the newer songs 

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

any Hootie and the Blowfish fans care to take that first step as Nick has so bravely demonstrated?

Ross Rubio
Ross Rubio

This further proves how fucking stupid the music department at the Observer really is. And Coca-Cola was not affiliated with Starplex at that time, as a bonus factoid.

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

37 yo white guy here, and DMB used to be my favorite band. I think different times of our lives have different sounds, bands, whatever. My roommate in college got me into it, it was decent music to listen to, get drunk, pass out, the girls loved it as well. 

The lyrics are kind of jumpy and non sensical, but what are you looking for exactly in a song? The instrumentals are/were catchy, I looked at whatever lyrics were attached as Dave being high when he was writing the songs and he was just transcribing whatever came to mind. I really enjoyed the darkness of the Lillywhite sessions, probably because at the time of my life i was living paycheck to paycheck and so I enjoyed the darkness.

What I listened to in the 80's and 90's didn't stand up to the test of time, but it was what it was. I can't remember the last time I bought any DMB, but it is nice to hear some of the old stuff every now and then. I kind of dropped off right at Gru Grux, didn't buy it and my boss burned me a copy and I listened to it a couple of times but by then I was too wrapped up into sports talk radio and sattellite commercial free stations. Stand Up sucked, I guess that's where you're coming from with the more commercial sound. 

Ricky Dansby
Ricky Dansby

Tool is falling into this category, given the length of time it takes for them to release new material.

Ryan Rogers
Ryan Rogers

This was Metallica for me. Once they released the Black Album I was out. Prior to that, I lived and died by them.

Eraic
Eraic

DMB to me is the reverse of most of today's popular acts.. great when they do their live jam sessions on stage due to the individual talent of the various musicians, but mediocre in their recorded work.   I would like to just cut Dave's microphone and listen to the instrumental work.   

Kelli Chastain
Kelli Chastain

The Killers. Loved their first album. Not anything since.

Ed Ball
Ed Ball

Wilco is the current Dave Matthews Band. And most die hard Wilco fans hate this.

janerleblanc
janerleblanc

I still love old school DMB. They were my favorite band for a while, and their old stuff is still great to listen to. 

Sean Stanfield
Sean Stanfield

The writer of this article sounds like a hipster douche.

John Travis Wilson
John Travis Wilson

You may not like them; but that doesn't mean they aren't good. They're all very talented and all very proficient with their instruments. Dramatic is a bad thing? The lyrics may not be as good nowadays, but most of the songs are great lyrically. The difficulty here is you didn't simply give your opinion, you made a pronouncement. You said DMB is objectively bad. That simply isn't true. Neither your distaste for, nor my taste for, a music makes it stand or fall as good music. DMB is excellent live. Most people who disagree have never gone to a show. I've been to seven and all have been good. I get that people don't like them. Great! Diversity makes the world spin! But to pretend that your displeasure is the standard is arrogant. And, to reiterate, my liking of DMB doesn't make it good, either.

Tyler Satchwell
Tyler Satchwell

Pearl Jam for me. I just can't stand their latest work, pretty much since Vitalogy.

craighlavaty_
craighlavaty_

I got an amazing contact high at my first DMB show in 1996 in the Woodlands when I was 13. They will always be a my attic band too.

Nictacular
Nictacular

I've always been sort of middle of the road on Dave. Weird thing is that some of my closest friends, guys whose weddings I was in, and a few past girlfriends have been WAAAY into DMB. I'm talking fire/water dancer tattoos, blowing through their savings after college to follow DMB across country, and even including them as their wedding songs.

Some people get really, really into these guys.

Matt Daniel
Matt Daniel

Nah, as you grow up your tastes change. I wouldn't say Dave Matthews is terrible, he was perfect for us for where we were in our lives in the early 2000s. I am not as big of a fan now either, but I can listen now with nostalgia.

Alejandro Monjaras
Alejandro Monjaras

I never liked them then, to me their sound is the same as it was back iin 95. DMB and 311 are the kings of summer, they can spend the rest of their careers raking it in playing shows 3 months out of the year.

Brian Chestnut
Brian Chestnut

The problem with Dave Mathews is that he has 2 or 3 good songs... And all the rest are chord variations of those same couple of songs.

Jimmy Wright
Jimmy Wright

i would rather put my head on an active railroad track then go to a Dave Mathews concert

MattL11
MattL11

Even in high school, when all of my friends were into Dave Matthews, I never really liked them. I expressed this to a friend of mine once, who proceeded to tell me that Dave was "probably one of the best songwriters in the world." To this day I won't let him forget those words. Sometimes, it pays to be right from the get go. 

kingofprussia
kingofprussia

you're an idiot to base quality on song length. who cares that you don't like 15 minute songs, doesn't mean they are not good songs or that the band is not talented? you sound like a hipster doofus

mdon04
mdon04

@bvckvs @bvckvs  This is unbelievably troubling to read.... I don't even know what to think........ Don't Drink the Water, Bartender, #41, Last Stop, CRY FREEDOM, Pig, Grey Street (Lillywhite version especially), Rhyme and Reason, One Sweet World, SEEK UP, Lover Lay Down.... these are some of the most amazing lyrics I've ever heard. His music is poetry. I truly don't understand. Are you one of those people predisposed to hate DMB because it's cool to do so? I mean, I appreciate that everybody has an opinion, but the harsh negativity that you spew with such certainty here is ridiculous. Wow. I guess all I can say is that I feel bad for you that you don't have the opportunity to be touched by their music like so many others do.

mdon04
mdon04

@stoneman you, similarly, are a closed-minded idiot who is acting like they have it "all figured out" but are completely missing it... not sure it's even worth attempting to help you realize how you sound to others. Nope, it's not.

darrylrs
darrylrs

I can attest that Nick is neither a hipster or a douche or any combination there of.

nick.rallo
nick.rallo moderator

@craighlavaty_ THE WOODLANDS. I feel like in the 90's that place was the unofficial Dave Matthews Band venue.

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@listenermark They do. It's very odd. I'm so fascinated to know who it is they think wants to hear "Everyday" on the heels of St. Vincent.

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@kingofprussia I am wearing khakis and loafers and am listening to #41 and can attest that it's much, much too long.

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@ScottsMerkin I do. My kid's sort of into the whole socks-and-shoes thing. His first word was shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhu

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@joe.tone @ScottsMerkin speaking of sockless, do you put socks on your kid with shoes?  My wife insists on that shit, and its impossible to get the damn shoe over the sock while the 1 y.o. attempts to play soccer with my nose

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