It’s Labor Dave Weekend! That time of year when 20,000 dedicated Dave Matthews Band enthusiasts make their pilgrimage to Washington State for three days of camping, fun, friendship, awe-inspiring nature, and, of course, music. Sadly, I have yet to make this trip, but it is an absolute on my bucket-list. And although, I’m sure it doesn’t compare to the live adventure, this year, at least, I will be watching the shows online which is a fantastic option for those of us who couldn’t swing the travel.
The Gorge, or “Heaven’s Amphitheatre,” as it is adoringly called by many, is one of, if not, the most, popular DMB venues in the world. Sitting atop a cliff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, this particular spot lends itself quite easily to experiences that can only be described as spiritual. Although every Dave Matthews Band gig is unique and spectacular in it’s own way, there does seem to be something even more magical about this setting. It’s decidedly not a typical situation.
From rare set-lists, to the introduction of songs like “Blackbird,” “Stay or Leave,” “Road,” and “Caveman,” Gorge-goers are almost guaranteed uncommon treats at this locale. But perhaps the most famous example of what makes this outdoor playground so mesmerizing occurred on August 29th, 2008, ten days after the death of our beloved founder, and sax player, LeRoi Holloway Moore. Again, I was not a first-hand witness to this event, as I imagine some of you were, so I am unlikely to do justice to what truly happened, but I will do my best.
LeRoi’s passing was inevitably heavy on the minds of both the musicians and their listeners that Friday night. For the ensemble’s part, opening with “Bartender,” the same song that initiated the fateful Staples Center performance, the night that LeRoi took his final breath, was deeply symbolic. Along the same vein, those in the audience wanted to reflect their shared grief and support back to the men who had lost someone so integral to their very souls.
Somehow, as it has been described to me, thousands and thousands of fans attending the concert were able to come together at a simultaneous moment, lighting a multitude of glow-sticks, in remembrance of LeRoi. This is truly an amazing work of symmetry, as anyone who’s ever tried to coordinate the movements of more than two people can attest. To me, it sounds like one of those things that was just meant to happen serendipitously. The gesture was so widespread that everyone on stage took notice, and stopped playing for the better part of five minutes. During that time, Dave made several signals to the powers that be to let the moment last, while Boyd broke down and shed tears. Each person who I have spoken to was moved beyond comparison. It literally sounds like a circle was made around those who were present, taking all of the people in every direction, and lifting them up on loving wings.
And so, it is with this image of profound synchronicity that I, and probably thousands of others, will eagerly await this weekend’s extravaganza. Beyond question, it will be the best of what’s around.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self