Reviews of Dave Matthews Band Concerts Past

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Wednesday, June 7, 2006; 5:10 PM

Certain bands have a sound that is perfectly fit for summer. The Dave Matthews Band is one. The good-vibe rockers play music that's best enjoyed outdoors, while wearing a t-shirt and shorts. But while the weather is usually warm when Dave's on stage, the opinons of many of The Post's reviewers over the years have been decidedly lukewarm.

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August 30, 1995
The Dave Matthews Band isn't exactly a normal live act. Most bands, for instance, don't see their violinist get more applause than their lead vocalist. (Most bands don't include a violin, but that's another matter.) Most bands don't skip their biggest single in a show. But this quirky Charlottesville quintet had no trouble keeping the attention of a packed Nissan Pavilion Sunday night.

The first thing to know about the Dave Matthews Band is that this group knows how to cook. Almost every song wound up at five minutes or longer, with frequent changes in rhythm, melody and structure. "Jimi Thing" lasted 17 minutes -- with the help of David Harris, opener Dionne Farris's guitarist -- and voyaged from funky world beat to a muscular electric guitar solo to a screaming six-directions-at-once improv sequence to a tranquil acoustic-electric guitar duo.

"Drive In, Drive Out," which began as straightforward as anything from DMB can, evolved into a quasi-two-step, spurred by Boyd Tinsley's lively violin. And the band luxuriated in an extended introduction to "Ants Marching," twisting riffs this way and that before launching into the first verse.

Matthews himself was in fine form, his vocals routinely stretching from a falsetto to a deep, throaty growl. For all his apparent surprise at playing in such a big room -- the band's last D.C.-area gig was at Lisner Auditorium -- he was obviously enjoying himself, as was the rest of the band.

The set list included several unreleased songs, but not the band's biggest single, "What Would You Say." It's that kind of deliberate oddity that ensures DMB isn't about to be labeled as "typical" anything.

Rob Pegoraro
The Washington Post

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September 4, 1996
If there's one word you don't want to say about a set by the Dave Matthews Band, it's "predictable." The improvisation-addicted Charlottesville quintet excels when it leaves its audience guessing about the next turn in a song.

But parts of the group's show Saturday at the Nissan Pavilion missed that element of surprise, with several songs -- notably, "So Much to Say" -- played exactly like their recorded versions. These renditions all drew ecstatic, sing-along responses from the crowd, but they would have benefited from more of the group's creative capriciousness.

Fortunately, that spark returned later in the show. For example, "Warehouse," which began with some stripped-down jamming between violinist Boyd Tinsley and Matthews on guitar, then merged into folk-rock and wound up closer to calypso, with Leroi Moore's tranquil saxophone solo gliding over the soothing rhythms of Tinsley's pizzicato playing. A scorching version of "Tripping Billies" met the same high standard, but with more noise: The band closed out the tune with a fierce jam between Tinsley and Matthews, who apparently broke a string on his guitar in the process.


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