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Lights Down

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This is a bittersweet time to be a Dave Matthews Band fan. On the one hand, we just topped off almost twenty years of touring with an amazing finale, full of outstanding performances that were jam packed with enormous variety and unmistakable vitality. Those who were lucky enough to attend last weekend’s Charlottesville shows were treated to nearly 50 different tracks, (including a double encore!) over two nights of pure musical bliss. And, most everyone, who got to a Fall concert, was fortunate enough to hear “The Last Stop,” which is always a crowd pleaser. But, as much as we all want to hear that song, the majority of us would rather not think about it’s shadowy significance.

By now, even casual observers of the band are aware that DMB will not be touring next year. I realized this when the teenager in front of me in Atlanta informed me that Dave will be “retiring” in 2011. While I did my best to set the record straight, I would be lying if I said that those words weren’t hanging on me like a wet rag. It’s hard enough to stomach the idea of one summer without hearing these musicians live. I don’t even want to imagine what it would be like to know that these spectacular evenings of sound would continue to exist solely in our memories. Of course, at the same time, I completely respect and applaud these men for taking a well-deserved break for themselves and their families. I can only contemplate how draining it must be for them to live a traveling life.

And yet, I trust that these musicians have not come to the end of their road together. In the crew notes from November 21st, 2010, it says, “After 89 shows this year we are all ready for some time at home, though it’s easy to sense the sorrow amongst everyone out here, sad over the chance that we won’t see each other for a while. However, it is clear that we have much more to accomplish together.” These are comforting words, and they ring true. The journal entry then goes on to discuss the metaphor that, to me, ensures that these performers have not seen their final day on stage together. Not yet, anyway.

Despite the fact that “The Last Stop,” was aptly planned to be the closer for 2010, the band seemed to spontaneously feel that ending there wouldn’t suffice. So, instead of following the pre-determined set-list, they listened to their hearts and continued to play; first a “Too Much” fake, then “Anyone Seen the Bridge,” into “Ants Marching.” I can’t think of a better way for Dave and the boys to reassure us that they will be back than this. Busting out “Ants Marching,” which Dave has reportedly dubbed the anthem of DMB, tells us that although we have reached the last stop, it is only temporary; that the future holds many more opportunities for our community of ants to march as one, even if we are people in every direction. 

Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.

Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self

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