18 May 2022


A music critic at a Dave Matthews Band concert

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Academic level: College

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Being a senior writer at the Rolling Stone magazine, I was assigned a duty to spend a week with the Dave Matthews Band (DMB). I witnessed some of their concerts as a fan with a backstage pass. The most iconic tour was a three-day visit to the Gorge in Washington State. My role entailed interviewing the band members, some fans, and the band manager. The aspects of concern included the general culture, music culture, conduct during the concert, and the attitude of their fans. Additionally, I was required to employ my personal feelings in the analysis. 

On the first day of my mission, I was able to interview Jeff Coffin. He is a member of the band and managed to give me a brief history of their group. He indicated that DMB is an American rock band founded in the year 1991 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The initiators were Dave Matthews as a guitarist and singer-songwriter, Stefan Lessard as a bassist, LeRoi Moore, the saxophonist, and Carter Beauford as the backing vocalist. Later on, they were joined by Boyd Tinsley who became their violinist. However, in 2008, Moore died, and his position was taken by my interviewee, Jeff Coffin. Moreover, the other members including Rashawn Ross the trumpeter and Tim Reynolds, the guitarist joined them (Wine, 2016). To wind up our discussion, he informed me that their band mainly focuses on genres like bluegrass, pop rock, folk rock, funk rock, rock, jazz fusion, and jam. So far, they have won seven awards from twenty-seven nominations. Moreover, he indicated that they are venturing into a new culture of writing songs about the war-torn countries like Senegal, Iran, and Tehran. Consequently, the local music will give a diverse platform for everyone to listen.

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From their manager, Robert Coran Capshaw, I was able to gather a few issues concerning DMB’s music culture. The team is excitingly talented and even became the pioneers in the field of jam bands. They have been in the market for more than twenty years, but are still dominant in large amphitheatres. The population mainly served by the DMB are those above thirty years and not youngsters below twenty-five years. Since every member is proficient, most of the biggest critics of DMB still admit that the members are highly talented. From the look of things, the show had undersold, upon asking him, he said that the tour was going well and urged me to be positive. Despite things going wrong, one should find what went on well and focus on it. Additionally, he informed me that the success of DMB comes as a result of his preparation to develop their efforts regarding business (Wine, 2016). He has the requisite skills from appropriate business training.

During the concert, the band was a simple lot without anything flashy. Matthews’ voice was smooth and touched people’s souls. They began with the song Everyday, which captured the fans who reverberated the voice of Matthew in every note. They sang from one song to another, lengthened jazz saxophone, drum solos, and trumpet. Also, they took long breaks for the piano making the multitude of lonely hearts and lovers to sway and vibe along. Matthews stomped and kicked on the stage like a youngster. He could be seen joking with his audience in between the songs, but his voice maintained its quality. The concert was also informative because within the breaks, especially before the song Mercy, Matthews referred to the misfortunes in the US by saying that people have to find peace and mercy, and find out how to love one another. In response, the crowd resounded its support.

Still, at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington, the crowd was set on fire when the Crash Into Me song was sung. It was a moment for people to become spiritual and immersed. The show took three hours, and to my amazement, the band possessed sufficient material to carry it through the entire session. At the end of the concert, the fans did not leave but called the band back using cell phone lights and lighters. DMB did not disappoint them because they came back and sang Rapunzel and The Space Between before going away. Consequently, I felt that DMB has timeless music, which no one can afford to miss. At the backstage, soon after their performance, I got the opportunity to interview Stefan Lessard. He informed me that the band has a culture of togetherness both professionally and personally. They uphold sacrifice and communism through their seductive and reflective music. Many of their songs contemplate the quality and meaning of life through religion, politics, and life experiences. 

Also, I interviewed Dave Matthews concerning the significance of image. He said that people like music by first liking the owner. Image is an extension of the music one sings. On touring, which they often do, he said it should be planned five months in advance to attain their goals. This ensures the venue is secured for them, and no clashes with other artists occur. Additionally, he said that DMB makes connections by being observant and taking note of important things. Since their band has no females, I questioned him on gender equity, but he claimed he did not know the answer. He said music was his greatest influence. He loves seeing the way people react when he starts singing. 

Pertaining the fans, I roamed and interviewed some of them as the concert continued. From my personal analysis, there are two groups of fans. One is exceptionally dedicated, loyal, and obsessive. They come from various ethnic groups and cultures, and are mainly concerned with the band's music and companionship. The other entails a fan base with a casual interest in DMB. They are mainly attracted by the social benefits of going to the concerts. Upon asking them why they are not deeply engrossed, most of them said that they do not want to be like the others. They are deemed to be reckless, immature, hedonistic, greedy, spoiled, ignorant, binge drinkers, and materialistic. Later, I discovered this division is shown during the breaks whereby part of the crowd chants D - M – B while the other says “We Love Dave”. Hence, the dedicated lot is entirely concerned about DMB while the others only care about Dave.

The fan gender is equally distributed. From the look of things, the females were physically attracted to Dave Matthews by screaming claiming they love Dave. The males could be seen to be heavy drinkers and eyed the attractive females. Also, I asked the fans about their devotion to the members of the band. They said that each member of had a certain portion of fans devoted to them. For instance, Dave Matthews has the largest segment, followed by Carter Beauford while the rest have a small segment. The only undoing during the concerts are the loud and disrespectful fans who show grief at the music direction taken. Dave urged them to keep calm, be attentive, and be seated. Additionally, the interested fans detested the other lot without screaming and yelling. Moreover, I got a chance to ask some of the fans what they dislike about the band. To my dismay, most of them said that they did not like the move taken to venture into the pop-sound mood. This is seen in the song Everyday and the Stand Up   album, they had a deep interest in the old organic music. However, the band did not change because they assumed that disgruntled fans are always in existence throughout history. Furthermore, despite being disappointed, they would attend the concerts. Consequently, tension is created between those fans conveying their dissatisfaction and those enjoying the songs.

The book, Last Train to Memphis: the rise of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick unveiled Elvis’ life beyond his legendary part. He transformed the culture and music industry through extraordinary triumphs and self-invention. All his indulgences were successful. This is similar to the conduct of DMB, which has triumphed for more than twenty years in the music industry. They have remained relevant in the competitive music industry. Additionally, Last Train to Memphis shows how passionate Elvis was for music, professional associates, band members, and friends (Guralnick, 2014) . This is also the case of DMB, which maintains unity between the band members during the official and unofficial sessions. From the years 1968 to 1977, Elvis managed many demanding touring programs that no one in history has managed. This is similar to the case of DMB, which could sing for long, but never runs out of material to entertain the audience. Additionally, if they finish a show and their fans still want them to continue they always do.

The book, Come Together: John Lennon in His Time by Jon Wiener focuses on the political outlooks of John Lennon, the investigations made on him by the FBI, and his trial to connect radical politics and rock music. He is passionate, and most of his songs focus on high levels of social concerns, and openness to angry feelings. Just like Lennon connected his songs and politics, the DMB also ventured into politics. Their song, American Baby, focuses on politics, and it happened after George W. Bush was re-elected the US president. Matthews disliked Bush and encouraged those with similar views to be hopeful. The song is termed purely political because of the bombs heard within the song. Most of the fans became worried about the song’s message concerning war, their nation, and President Bush. He had written political songs but had never criticised any decision or event (Wiener, 1985) . He mainly spoke about starvation, the shock of war, and dislocation of the Native Americans. Hence, both John Lennon and DMB are concerned about their country’s politics.

To sum up, the DMB was founded by Dave Matthews in 1991, and it has been in active operation for more than twenty years. Their manager, Robert Coran Capshaw, is proud of their talent. He is well-trained, and he believes he has caused the immense success. The band is simple, but when they perform they touch people’s souls. Additionally, they advise people to lead peaceful and merciful lives. They are well equipped materially and perform for long without running out of music. They uphold the culture of togetherness both on personal and professional levels. The fan base is divided into the exceptionally dedicated lot and the casually interested group. However, concerning gender, they are equally distributed. The operations of DMB are related to the work of Peter Guralnick in the Last Train to Memphis: the rise of Elvis Presley. Like Elvis who loved music, professional associates, band members, and friends DMB loves togetherness between band members. Moreover, the book Come Together: John Lennon in His Time talks about the love of politics by Lennon by including them in his songs. This is also done by DMB when they sang American Baby after George W. Bush was re-elected the US president.


Guralnick, P. (2014). Last train to Memphis The Rise of Elvis Presley (2nd Ed.). Abacus: London.

Wiener, J. (1985). Come together (1st Ed.). London: Faber.

Wine, T. (2016). Dave Matthews Band under the microscope (1st Ed.). New York: Cherry Lane Music.

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