All Things Music, Vol. 9: DMB Caravan, Day Three

A four hour delay at O’Hare, no internet yet at my new home, and returning to the working world made for slight inconveniences in meeting my self-set publishing deadlines. I’m sure you’re all on pins and needles to hear about the final day of the DMB Caravan, so without further ado:

I decided to make it a shorter day Sunday, as Friday and Saturday wore me out a little. The dust certainly became more of a problem again, as it was by far the hottest day of the festival, with temperatures in the low 90s. But, as usual, the bands made those things more than bearable.

The Flaming Lips performed Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album in its entirety. They also incorporated some tunes from “The Wizard of Oz” into their performance. For those of you who don’t understand the connection between them, rumor has it that if you start playing the album at the second roar of the MGM lion at the beginning of the movie, the music syncs up perfectly with the highs and lows of Dorothy’s adventure. I have never attempted to find out for myself if this is true.

They began the show by singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” through a bullhorn, instead of the traditional microphone. I have to say I had heard before that the Flaming Lips put on quite the performance spectacle, and that part of my expectations were exceeded; Stunning visual effects, confetti cannons, and girls in Dorothy costumes (with only slightly shorter skirts) dancing on stage made for a great visual performance. During “Money,” the lead singer threw out a handful of balloons which he said were filled with a total of $10,000 in cash generously provided by Dave Matthews himself. I can neither confirm nor deny his statements, as I did not meet anyone who caught a balloon, nor did I get to ask Dave if he actually did this.

 However, I cannot say the same for their musical performance. They were slow, and seemingly unable to keep the crowd’s attention. Several times, he urged, perhaps downright pleaded, with the crowd to show some energy. These pleas would be met with cheers, but alas, they seemed unsustainable. Once “Money” was played, most left to grab a decent spot for DMB’s show. Although those people missed the best song of the concert, the one from which the album draws its title, they did not miss much else. I would give these guys a second chance to see them perform their own songs, but not to see them perform covers, as was their attempt.

DMB saved the best for last, as the final show of the weekend saw a slew of seldom heard songs – 12 of the 21 songs played I had heard live once or fewer, a pretty good ratio considering this made my 13th show. In terms of the setlist, this is the best show I have ever seen. In the band’s history, I don’t think there has been a better run of nine songs to open a set. Beginning with “One Sweet World,” a traditional opening tune, and ending with “Seek Up,” the nine-song run held fans captive, and left most of them breathless in awe of what they just heard. The intense “Bartender” led to a gut-busting drum solo from Carter Beauford for “Say Goodbye.” Fan favorite “Best of What’s Around,” was next, followed by “Captain,” which until their Atlantic City stop two weeks ago had not been played in seven years. “Shotgun” certainly pleased the die-hards (that includes me) as it does not appear on an album, but is a live favorite. “Warehouse” was the highlight, due mostly to a killer solo by trumpeter Rashawn Ross during the salsa jam outro.

Dave was certainly in a good mood tonight. There’s no better evidence of that than the conversations he had with the crowd: “I’m not just sayin’ this, but ya’ll smell delicious. The only way you guys could smell better, I think, is if my nose was bigger.” Few things provide more childish joy during a DMB show than watching Dave and Carter go back and forth with each other. Carter doesn’t go five seconds without smiling, and I would love to be able to hear all/repeat some of the jokes they trade, but most contain foul language, and I try to keep this a family blog. But be assured, they are hilarious.

DMB also performed four cover songs tonight, with friend and band crew member Joe Lawlor helping out for Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.” Morphine’s “Buena” was done very well, even though it seemed few people actually knew the song. “All Along the Watchtower,” which the band has played since the beginning of their existence and made it somewhat their own, was as fiery and fierce as ever. Tim Reynolds shreds the lead guitar all night, but absolutely kills it during “Watchtower.” The encore brought the house down with “Ants Marching” and a rousing rendition of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again” played back-to-back. By the end of the night, no one could stand still, even if they tried.

All in all, the festival went off without too many hiccups, and the site, which goes back to being a gigantic, empty plot of land this week, proved that it has the potential to house many large events, or serve as prime real estate for new developments. Despite the dust, long train rides, and its proximity to just about nothing that makes Chicago famous, the bands entertained a total of about 150,000 people over three days with good tunes and good times. Those things will trump two-hour waits for shuttles any day.

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