Dave Matthews Band RBC Bluesfest, Ottawa ON, July 11
Published Jul 12, 2018The Dave Matthews Band are at a strange point in their career and the zeitgeist as a whole.
On one hand, their recent album — Come Tomorrow — debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, raking in the highest sales of a rock album over the past four years. (It also features some of their most invigorating songs in a decade.)
Then there's Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig's Oscar-nominated coming-of-age film that introduced "Crash Into Me" to a whole new audience in one of the most beautifully sincere, unironic ways possible.
But with the recent sexual misconduct allegations (and subsequent firing) of longtime member Boyd Tinsley, a man whose violin playing helped define their sound throughout the '90s and beyond, a pall has been cast over the band's summer tour.
But if anyone at Ottawa Bluesfest was nervous that the DMB's supposed newfound hipster fandom and loss of an integral member would change the long-running American rock group's shows, those fears were immediately put to rest as Dave Matthews slowly sauntered onto stage, dusting off his belly and jeans with a goofy grin, as his fellow band members took their places behind him. As the South African-bred singer-songwriter recently told Vulture, DMB are a "party band."
They certainly brought the party to the Nation's Capital on Wednesday night, performing an eclectic set of hits ("What Would You Say," "She"), recent tracks (the startlingly good, despite its stupid name, "Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin)"), and extended jams ("Jimi Thing") that really showed off their range as a band, despite the recent lineup change.
Early on in the evening, the crowd was mostly chatty, as dudes who looked like Richard Linklater on a day off conversed with their partners and hunted down roving beer vendors. But Matthews and the band didn't seem to notice, ripping through atmospheric tracks from their most recent album ("Again and Again," "That Girl is You") while peppering the evening with deep cuts for the diehards who were paying attention.
By the time they covered Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" nearly halfway through their set, everyone at LeBreton Flats was paying attention.
Capitalizing on some silence, the band remained on point, whether it was Carter Beauford throwing in some double-kickdrum action on "Warehouse," saxophonist Jeff Coffin playing two woodwinds at the same time (or, as Matthews put it, "two in the mouth and a big bucket of fuck it"), or lead guitarist Tim Reynolds expertly riffing throughout ("Why I Am").
"I'm the luckiest man up here," Matthews told the crowd midway through the band's encore, which ended with the classic "Rapunzel."
Luck has nothing to do with it. These guys are one of the hardest working bands out there. Nearly 30 years in, they still deserve your attention.