Dave Matthews Band Cranks Out Over-The-Top Fusion Rock
October 13th, 1993
by Philip Van Vleck
Dave Matthews Band climbed on a bandstand in Few Quad, plugged in and knockedback a set of stellar tunes for a quad's worth of al fresco Dukesters. Theyburned up 100 minutes with some of the most ruthless over-the-top fusion rockthat anyone has ever heard.
Every song was a Matthews original (score excepted); every rendition was definitive. Early in the set, LeRoi Moorekicked out the jams, pushing a tenor sax line that winked at rock and peeled out into jazz terrain--the man set us back on our heels and kept us there for several minutes. Dave Matthews was mixing it up with Moore, working two instruments at once: a tasty, fluid guitar and an awesome singing voice. The number bopped and floated above Carter Beauford's slick busywork on drums. Moore grabbed a soprano sax and,cool enough, put a stinger in this tune, just tearing up the high end with another ripe solo.
They hit a funky groove with "Ants Marching," Boyd Tinsley cutting loose his unforgettable violin madness as Stefan Lessard thumped a deep, ear-popping bass groove that had the crowd shaking and baking. "Minarettes" spun a MiddleEastern riff into a jazzed-up rocked-out tour de force, Moore delivering more blistering sax, Beauford and Lessard tight and right, locked up in a churning, head busting rhythm jam. They encored with wild cover of Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" that ammounted to a deliciously immoderate rethinking of the melodic structure of this song.
Underwriting the jazz/rock attack of the Matthews band is the songwriting andguitar work of the brilliant, mildly spacey title character. Blessed with musical genius and a sneaky chrisma on stage, Matthews' singing is powerful, hisphrasing catchy and surprising. His lyrics, like the music, are rock-sensible esoterica in an electric jazz web. His plays a punchy, adroit guitar, assayingjazz, traditional and rock with equal savvy--but he keeps the ax in check. In the course of a song he leads as much with his voice as with his guitar, giving Tinsley and Moore plenty of room.