August 29th, 2006
BY ROB LOWMAN, Entertainment Editor
"If you can't have fun at a Dave Matthews concert, where can you have fun?" asked pretty dark-haired Rachel Musquiz rhetorically.
It was her birthday. She was turning 23 and she was ready to party along with 17,000 others Monday night at the Hollywood Bowl.
Never underestimate the power of wanting to have a good time, and Matthews and his band delivered the party favors to a crowd that ranged in their 20s to there 50s, with some looking like Ivy Leaguers and others more at home at a Hell's Angels convention. One guy a couple of rows up from me didn't take off his sunglasses all night.
"Down for whatever" read one T-shirt, which summed up the mood of the audience who were hoisting a few and getting ready for the main course as the jam band Robert Randolph and the Family Band got the night started with a funky groove.
Now there's a lot of music naysayers who look down on Matthews' popularity (he made $57 million in touring receipts last year and was ninth on Rolling Stone's annual list of the richest rock stars) or who make snide comments about his fans (Daveheads, or whatever, as if no one had ever smoked weed before at a concert). Most of the time they are instead championing the latest fad band from the British Isles or some emo type who are as musically interesting as Paris Hilton. So what does that tell you?
Whatever his drawbacks are (and those can be argued), Matthews definitely has the musical chops, knows how to entertain and, most importantly for his fans, has fun.
Matthews along with his six piece band kicked off the evening with the moderate rocker "The Best of What's Around,"
and through the night mixed old favorites with a few new numbers. What was evident as the band dug into "Dancing Nancies," "What Would You Say" and "Where Are You Going" is how they have loosened up over the years. The songs are freer, the band is looser, the jams more inventive and interesting.
The hit "Crash" began as a sing-along as the crowd joined in, but Matthews soon took it in a different direction that ended on an emotional note. "Warehouse" took a Latin flavor with LeRoi Moore's and Rashawn Ross' sultry playing.
On the extended jam of "Dancing Nancies," the band's mainstays - violinist Boyd Tinsley and drummer Carter Beauford - shined as they drove home the funky rhythm.
When Matthews - whose last release, "Stand Up," is more than a year old - played his new songs the audience bopped along politely - taking cell phone pictures, making out, drinking, watching the light show and waiting for the next favorite.
But as Ms. Musquiz noted, "It's all Dave," and that's OK.