“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life“
Dave Matthews Band
November 30th marked the 32nd day since one of the most powerful storms in our history, “Frankenstorm” Sandy, devastated most of the East Coast and Caribbean Islands. This was also a day that one of biggest acts in music, the Dave Matthews Band, dedicated the 1st show of their winter tour to those whose lives were changed forever. The band pledged $1 Million in ticket sales and merchandise a few weeks after announcing the show will be a benefit concert for storm victims. For the fans who already bought tickets, it was apparent this concert was not just going be another “opening night” of the tour.
Standing on the floor of the Izod Center, roughly 8-or-9 rows of people from the stage, I quickly realized there was definitely something in the air, and I’m not talking about the DMB-concert normality that is “nature’s green gift”. DMB concerts have long been a gathering of celebration and love, but on this night, those attributes were taken to another level.
Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff opened the concert, a welcomed surprise for many us who didn’t check to see what band was opening for them. Jimmy Cliff and his stage full of band mates performed incredibly, riding the electricity of the night with feel-good reggae, heads bobbing everywhere you looked. As is with most Reggae, buried in some of Jimmy’s music were hermetic undertones of sad and dark themes, also a birthmark of DMB.
Many DMB songs have a happy vibe to them, yet hidden in the beauty lies complicated emotions of music and lyrics…the music leading the listener one way and the words dragging them the other. Jimmy ended his performance with a slow drum circle-like climax, with every member playing African drums as Jimmy sang his heart out over the echoing beat… t’was amazing. Much props to Jimmy Cliff!
Dave Matthews Band opened their set with “Broken Things”, a personal favorite and the 1st song off their new album “Away From the World”, which was followed up with “Belly Belly Nice” off the same album. It was clear that the 1st night of the tour was going to primarily be a new-album show…which was cool…but almost everyone in attendance was ready for a DMB classic. The band delivered. The crowd knew from the opening riff of the 3rd song the show was about to explode. DMB played an almost 20 minute version of “Seek Up”, considered by many to be one of their best songs. As DMB has been doing for years, they extended the beginning of Seek Up, offering a roller coaster ride of horns, violin, drum, and bass. The song is SO fucking good live, pardon my cussin’.
Interesting side note: for the 2nd time this year, a new song was debuted in NJ. Back in June, “The Riff” made a debut at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden. This time around, “Drunken Soldier” was introduced to their set list, the closing song off the new album and another trumpet heavy monster of a tune.
After playing a few almost-solo new songs about midway through the show, Dave joked to a clapping crowd: “sorry for being selfish….it’s the 1st night of the tour, shit!”
During the intermission between bands I befriended a man and woman standing next to me, victims of the storm. They explained that while they were minimally affected in comparison to many, a lot of their close relatives lost everything. She teared up a little after mentioning a few friends who were hit hard, and also in attendance. I thought to myself, how does one put aside the destruction of the past month to attend a concert?
The answer was clear: for some of the “5 million proud” who lost most of their belongings, homes and possibly loved ones, the music of the Dave Matthews Band, at least for one night of music and love, washed away the traces of sand and dust that Hurricane Sandy left behind.