Alright, I’ll admit it. A few months ago, when I found out that someone other than myself was writing a book about the Dave Matthews’ Band, I felt a little panicky. You see, I was also working on such a piece, at least until a little thing like a baby happened. And even though I still plan on resuming my project at some point, after reading Nikki Van Noy’s “So Much to Say,” I can honestly say that I am entirely grateful to her for the hard work that she clearly dedicated in the name of the best band on Earth. Her well-written compilation contains an amazing amount of research and information that DMB aficionados will surely find fascinating. And best of all, much of what Ms. Van Noy included in her creation comes straight from the fans themselves.
And this makes sense. In truth, it would be impossible to tell the story of the Dave Matthews Band without paying homage to the millions of fans worldwide who have, in some way, shaped the history of this ensemble. From the relentless, grass roots, word of mouth sharing of the early days to the intense crowd participation of today, DMB’s audience has always been an integral part, not just of their success, but also of who they are as a band.
It’s been said that in order to be vibrant on stage, a performer needs to steer clear of eye-contact and not focus too heavily on particular listeners, so that they won’t become distracted. I think it’s safe to say that whoever came up with that advice has never witnessed the power of a Dave Matthews Band show. Not only does Dave maintain wonderful eye-contact with his followers, he, and the rest of the boys, actually feed off of the energy coming their way. There is a palatable, yet unmeasurable force that seems to bounce back and forth from the musicians to the listeners, gathering everyone into a collective zone that exemplifies pure spirit. It’s this luminous quality that, I believe, has kept so many of us in rapture for the better part of two decades.
Undoubtedly, one of the most telling symbols of the organic connection between our favorite players and ourselves will always be the firedancer. Drawn by Dave to denote the image that he sees when he looks out into the crowd, this token serves as a perfect metaphor for the essential bond between the band and their faithful. What better way to honor those who have helped fashion the experience of singing, dancing, and playing, than to include their likeness in a picture that will forever stand for DMB? And extending this idea a little further, we might even say that the firedancer is not only a representation of our bond with the band, but also with all of those who gain strength, love, compassion, and understanding from their music. In this way, the firedancer reminds us that we are all one; “right here, lying in the hands of God.”
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self