Dave Matthews Band Tour Flashback: 1995
"Hey, this is bigger then we thought”, said Carter Beauford, drummer and founding member of the Dave Matthews Band, describing how he felt opening for the Grateful Dead in the summer of 1995. With the success of Dave Matthews Band’s release "Under the Table and Dreaming" in September 1994, the year to follow was bound to knock them off their feet and shoot them into stardom. The word was beginning to spread beyond the east coast college campuses and into mainstream media. Even with their new found commercial recognition, DMB stayed true to what got them to where they were: playing music. They spent the majority of 1995 touring and performing sold out shows across the county and around the world. This was, without a doubt, an exciting year for DMB and a pivotal moment in their careers. Over all the years and memorable performances, 1995 is a year that stands out in the hearts of DMB fans. Join us for a little trip back in time, highlighting the 1995 touring season and all the reasons why it was so unforgettable.
DMB kicked off their winter tour on January 26, 1995. With Big Head Todd and the Monsters and the Ugly Americans in tow as the opening act, DMB traveled along the East Coast playing in small venues. The first stop was Memorial Auditorium in Burlington Virginia. The show opened with “Seek Up” and closed with “Ants Marching”. Fans got a treat when Trey Anastasio of Phish guested with the band for the very first time on “Jimi Thing”.
“Seek Up” went on to open thirteen more shows and “Ants Marching” closed out a total of 24 shows, making it the top closer of this tour. They played several two night stands along the way in cities such as Providence, RI, Upper Darby, PA, Richmond, VA, New York City, and Chicago, IL. Trey Anastasio returned on February 24, 1995 to guest on the now legendary version of “All Along the Watchtower”, also featuring John Popper.
In efforts to promote their new album, DMB made stops to a number of radio stations and one very important stop to a famous late night television program. On February 24, 1995 DMB played “What Would You Say” in front of a live studio audience on the Late Show with David Letterman. This would mark the first of three appearances on The Late Show in 1995.
“Blue Water” from February 25, 1995 is one of many highlights during the 1995 tour. This marked its first appearance since 1993 and also the last time it was played full band. Not only is Blue Water a fan favorite, but it also has a special place in the heart one of the band members. After posting a thread on izstyle.com in 2007 asking which song DMB song fans missed the most, Stefan had this to say about the overwhelming winner, “Blue Water”:
"I loved the responses and am with you on Blue Water...One of my all time favorites.”
“The solo section bass line from that song was inspired from listening to Pink Floyd all the time when I was 18.”
“The lyrics...beautifully dark...we were a young band when that song was written...Look what you all have done to me, I'm feeling a bit melancholy at the moment...”
Overall 34 different songs were played ranging from “Seek Up”, “Ants Marching”, “Say Goodbye”, “Minarets”, “Halloween”, “Lie In Our Graves”, “Granny”, “Help Myself”, “#36”, “Warehouse” and “Dancing Nancies”. The tour ended in St. Paul, MN on March 18, 1995 with DMB as the opening act and Big Head Todd and the Monsters playing the main stage. As we will see, this was only the beginning of a very busy year for Dave and the band.
Fresh of the winter tour, DMB quickly embarked overseas to Europe on a tour lasting from March 31, 1995 through April 3, 1995. They made eleven stops total, playing in cities such as London, Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam and Stockholm, just to name a few.
On April 7, 1995, DMB returned to the U.S. playing a show at Duke University kicking off their Spring Tour. They played for the first time ever "41 Police" a song that would be played 19 times during 1995 and later became defunt and morphed in what is arguably one of the biggest fan favorite songs of all time, "#41".
Later in the tour, Dave would go on to play “#40” as a solo for the first time, a performance featured on Live Trax Volume 12.
Shortly after the start of the tour, DMB was invited to play one of the biggest gigs on television, Saturday Night Live. An invitation to play SNL is an honor for any musician and they were happy to accept. On April 15, 1995 DMB appeared on SNL for the first time, along side host Courtney Cox. They performed two songs that night, “What Would You Say” and “Ants Marching”. “What Would You Say” was featured on Saturday Night Live: 25 Years Of Musical Performances, Vol. 1, released in 2001.
“Don’t Burn the Pig”, the song in which we get our website name, appeared for the first time at the famous Yoshi’s show in Oakland, CA on May 10, 1995. Now defunct, Don’t Burn the Pig has only been played by the full band once outside of the 1995 tour. Also played during this small acoustic set was the now famous version of “#40”. This performance in particular went on to be the gold standard in which all versions of “#40” are measured. This is undeniably one show that all DMB fans should have in their collection.
The spring tour came to a close on May 14, 1995 at the Mesa Amphitheatre in Mesa, AZ. “Ants Marching” closed every show on this tour with “Recently” and “Warehouse” tying for the top opener spot with nine performances each. With the spring tour winding down, DMB was looking forward to what would be the longest tour season, the summer tour. Already completing three tours in just five months, the band was still raring to go and showed no signs of slowing down.
Never skipping a beat, DMB traveled back to Europe on June 6, 1995 for another eleven stop tour. The tour began with an MTV performance in Nurburg, Germany and ended in Belfort, France. Set lists are unknown for eight of the eleven shows. Traveling back to the U.S on July 20, 1995, DMB commenced their Summer Tour in Memphis, TN at the Mud Island River Park Amphitheatre. Dionne Farris opened for the band that night and was also the opening act for the majority of the summer tour stops. On July 22, 1995 DMB made a stop into APC Studios in Atlanta, GA to play a small set list including a "Don't Burn the Pig" opener, “Dancing Nancies”, and “Satellite”, among others.
A cover song making its debut on this tour was “Eyes of the World”. DMB played this song as a tribute to Jerry Garcia following his death. It is said that fans have chanted for its return during Dave and Tim shows, but it has yet to be played since its first appearance on August 11, 1995. On August 14, 1995, the band stepped off the tour for an evening to perform on the Tonight Show the Jay Leno. They performed their hit “Ants Marching” in front of a live studio audience in NBC studios.
DMB quickly returned to the road playing the next night in Morrison, CO at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Most DMB fans are familiar with this performance as it was their first official live album. Released in 1997, Live at Red Rocks, went on to sell one million copies in half a year. Two songs that made their debut during the summer tour were “Little Thing” and “Raven”. On August 20, 1995, “Little Thing” was teased for the second time, this time going into “Raven”. This was the only known time “Raven” appeared prior to the 2000 tour. “Little Thing” was eventually played by the full band on the winter tour, but did not include the spoken intro until the 1996 tour.
"Exodus", a Bob Marley tune, and a cover song DMB has been playing since the beginning, made several appearances in 1995. The version that stands out the most would have to be from the August 23, 1995 show at the Meadow Brook Music Festival in Rochester Hills, Michigan. This version was twelve minutes long and was featured on Live Trax Volume 5. Exodus has only been played four times and teased once since then.
On September 3, 1995 DMB wrapped up the summer tour. Dionne Farris made a leap from the opening stage to the main act accompanying Dave on vocals for “Typical Situation”. Overall 42 different songs were played that summer with “Ants Marching” leading the pack with 35 performances followed at a close second with “Dancing Nancies”. Continuing its popularity from the earlier tours, “Seek Up” was the top opener. “Warehouse” and “Lover Lay Down” were only played once as an encore.
Taking a small break from touring, DMB made a special appearance to support a cause close to their hearts, signifying another big “first” for DMB: their first Farm Aid performance. Farm Aid is a non-profit organization with a mission to help family farmers keep their land. Each year, since 1985, Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp have organized this event to raise awareness about the loss of family farms across America. On October 1, 1995, Farm Aid’s 10th anniversary, DMB joined the stage with Hootie and the Blowfish, BlackHawk, John Conlee, Supersuckers, and Steve Earle to help raise money for Farm Aid’s efforts. With the help of longtime friend, Tim Reynolds, they performed a six song set in front of 47,000 supporters in Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky.
This concert event raised over 1 million dollars for the Farm Aid Foundation. Since their first performance DMB has returned to Farm Aid several times. Dave became an official member of the Board of Directors in 2001 and has performed there each year since.
Ready to get back to business, DMB made a few special appearances before starting their New Years Eve run of shows. On December 7, 1995 the band took the stage at the WHFS Concert hosted at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. They performed a four song set that included “Too Much” into “Drive in Drive Out”, “Satellite” and “Ants Marching”. Less then a week later they made another stop to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City to make an appearance on the Late Night Show with David Letterman, this time performing “Satellite”.
DMB started their New Years run on December 27, 1995 at The Omni in Atlanta, Georgia. They went on to do four more shows before the end of the year, making stops in Charlotte, NC, Fairfax, VA and ending with back to back shows at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia. With the exception of the opening show at The Omni, “Christmas Song” was played as a Dave solo encore performance at each of these shows. The ”Warehouse” stop time intro that was debuted and played occasionally on the 1995 tour, made an appearance on December 30th during night one at the Hampton Coliseum. Another highlight from that same evening, guest Bruce Hornsby on the keyboard for the closing song “All Along the Watchtower”. The final show of the year featured a New Year’s Resolution improv jam and also marked the first time “Too Much” was played in an encore. With another successful tour under their belt and 1995 behind them, it was a happy new year indeed.
I think it’s safe to say that 1995 was an immensely successful year for DMB. The shows were adding up and so was a loyal fan base. This was a year all about promoting their new album, getting their faces out there and giving the fans what they wanted: the music. Dave states, “I think it's fairly obvious that if you play the guitar and sing, you should perform”, and that’s just what they did. There were a total of 156 live performances, several new songs and covers were introduced and even few fan favorites made their return. All the moments of the 1995 touring season helped to set a foundation for DMB as they moved into the next year and the next album on the horizon, Crash. Big things were in store for DMB and their devoted fans, this was only the beginning.