Just Thinking Outloud
I've been a fan for 16 years or so. I've gone to shows in my hometown since 2004. I am well aware there are fans that have seen hundreds of live shows and have been to many venues and could share stories much more detailed than I. Some have met band members, some have pictures in an embrace from Dave himself! Others talk about bumping into group members on city streets, bike trails, the local pub or going into grab a coffee at Starbucks. Some fans have connections to get pit tickets for every show and others know the lighting engineer and are able to collect set lists. Autographs, drum sticks, hand shakes, and the white glove of Carter are treasures that any fan would cherish.
I do not have any elaborate tale to tell. I do not have any memorabilia that has been signed. I have never met a band member, seen Dave on the street, or gotten a picture taken with a band member. I do, however, consider myself to be knowledgeable, more than a bit interested, and a fan with a passion when it comes DMB. My family thinks I've gone off the deep end, my friends humor me. They roll their eyes, nod their heads and secretly think I'm obsessed.
Until a few years ago I had only seen DMB at my home venue. All great shows! I began to travel to different venues and saw how each crowd had its own personality. Each venue was unique and had a vibe all its own. And this year my destination was Alpine Valley! 2 shows in 2 days at one of the largest venues in the country. Words can not describe the experience I had here ... But I will try.
Traveling over 7 hours to this venue was easy. I think the DMB tunes blasting from our vehicle propelled us from state to state with ease. Arriving a day early gave us the opportunity to check out the venue prior to the show. The excitement kept me up most of the night but thankfully I got in a few hours sleep. Paying twenty dollars to get into the parking lots early was a no brainer and by 1:15 we were parked and meeting new friends and cohorts for the weekend ahead. The overall feel throughout the group was one of excitement, a commorartery, a type of reunion one would have with family members. It was palpable. It was as if we all were united, ready for a great weekend and great music and memories were about to be made.
And boy were they ever! Night one made history as the longest concert ever played by DMB. The weather was perfect! By day, with the bluest of sky,great puffy clouds, the sun beating down causing us to partake of the beverage of choice with gratitude for coolers and those around us who offered shade under tents and canopies they brought in for the day. And the evening brought us a breeze and a star filled night for those of us who looked up as the lyric belted from the stage, "here we are, on this starry night staring into space..."
The band was as tight as I've ever seen them. They were in tune with one another, having the time of their lives, it seemed. Boyd was on fire as I've never seen him before. Jeff played his horns as if he had finally found his place inside this band who lost their beloved friend only a few years ago. Of course Carter and Stefan carried us through each song and gave us their all. Rashawn was solid and Tim came in at just the right times. Dave was on target lyrically and had a sense of pride in this band and its members as soon as they joined him on stage during the acoustic set. He continually told us how he " loved this place! " and it was obvious he meant it.
Day 2 for me was about the crowd! I met friends that through social media had become a part of my life. Those who had corresponded with me for over a year, to those who I had just texted with that morning about how great the show had been the night before and how much a cup a coffee was definitely needed to start the day. Over a dozen friends came by to say hi, snap photos, introduce family members to one another, and to talk about the show we all just came from the night before. And once the show began it was obvious that our input would direct the band like never before. Chanting to the band "thank you..." And having their response to us was like nothing I've ever seen before! They continued our chant with the song - not practiced or rehearsed- in its entirety! And the later in the show they turned the tables on us and let us sing both verses of Jimi Thing. What band does this?! It was a show that all 35,000 of us were part of! Not just spectators, but real participants!
Driving home the next day and until now, a week later, I have been thinking of the impact this band, these fans, last weekend has had on me. I had a life changing year, being diagnosed with cancer, having major surgery, and being told I'm now cancer free has changed me. This band, with its overall themes of LoVE, living life one day at a time, being grateful and enjoying life has never meant more to me. The fans, how we embrace one another, in all our differences and by having one common denominator- the music of DMB unites us. And the experience at Alpine Vallry this past weekend, jammed packed with all the things in life that matter have given me memories I will hold onto forever.
One day, I might meet a band member. Maybe I'll get a snapshot of Dave with his arms around me. One day I might get an autograph or a drum stick to display with the posters I have up on the walls in my house. But in the big picture I have all I need- a band that gives me joy, friends I have met along the way and memories that I will forever cherish.
This blessed sip of life - it is enough.