This past weekend at Alpine Valley Music Theater, in East Troy, Wisconsin, the Dave Matthews Band played what many are calling, the best two-night set, in history. Of course, that is a subjective call, but taking a look at the songs that graced the stage, I can see where the superlatives are coming from. Night one boasted favorites like, "You Never Know," "The Best of What's Around," "The Song That Jane Likes," "Seek Up," "Pig," and even a rare, partial, "
." And that was just night one! Night Two was given a rarity score of 1 by
, because of seldom heard treats like "
," "Shotgun," "Raven," "The Dreaming Tree," and "Loving Wings."
One could argue that these amazing lineups were to be expected given the setting. Alpine Valley has long been a mecca for DMB fans, and it seems to be one of the venues where the band takes greater risks. But even so, this year's performance shined brighter than other Alpine stints.
So, what was it then that made this year's Alpiners so damn lucky? Well, I don't have any proof, but for a moment I'll take the lid off my head and hypothesize. First, there was the heat. Due to factors that only the silliest people are still refuting, the Earth is indeed warming up. Where a few years ago, Wisconsin's nighttime temperatures allowed for sweatshirts, this year, the heat index soared into the hundreds, causing many concert-goers to have to leave early due to heat exhaustion, and related health concerns. I can't imagine what it must have been like on stage, under the bright lights, in that weather, but I wonder if Dave and the boys wanted to give something special to those who braved the elements to be there.
Either way, I've also noticed a definite change in the nature of the setlists since the beginning of this tour. Where some of the earlier performances were heavily weighted with "Big Whiskey" tracks, the more recent shows seem less enamored with the album. I believe that this is because many fans asked, and asked, and okay, maybe whined a little, because they wanted to hear more variety in their shows. And judging from recent concerts, the musicians listened to our pleas.
Whatever your thoughts about "setlist-whiners," I think it's truly amazing that this band is so connected to their fans, that they will alter the course of their tour to accommodate us. I know there are those who believe that we have no business stating our opinions on what is played, because the Dave Matthews Band puts an outrageous amount of effort into each show. And while I agree that DMB goes far above and beyond, regardless of the setlist, I still think that it is human and normal for listeners to have their favorites. Those songs that make an outstanding night, nothing short of luminous. So, thank you, DMB, for letting us push you past your comfort zone, so that we may experience even more of your insane collection of tunes. Because of you, millions of cups are truly overflowing.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.