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Dave Matthews Band Bust Out Deep Cuts (and Lasers!)

The kings of summer return to the road with new tunes, rarities. Plus: Inside their forthcoming LP

More the 30,000 fans roared as Dave Matthews walked onstage at the Comcast Theatre in Harford, Connecticut, with a ukulele in his hands on the muggy night of May 26th. "You know the feeling when your in too deep," Matthews sang, breaking out "Sweet", a lullaby he wrote last year after teaching his four-year-old son how to swim. "But if you make it out, the taste is so sweet." 

Life is pretty sweet right now for the Dave Matthews Band who kicked off their latest tour on May 18th. After taking most of last year off, aside from staging a handful of their own Caravan festivals, they're back to their usual moster summer schedule ~ lighting up huge outdoor venues like New York's Jones Beach Theater and Wisconsin's Alpine Valley Music Theatre before wrapping September 9th in Mountain View, California. "It's good to be back," says violinist Boyd Tinsley. "It's cool to go out and watch old fans and whole new generation of kids. That's inspiring."

In the Hartford parking lot, the pre-show party was in full swing, as basketball-jersey-wearing dudes chugged beers. Onstage, the band stretched out - 2009's "Funny The Way It Is" became a slow building prog jam complete with a wild laser show, and Matthews got down to guitarist Tim Reynolds' Hendrix-ish riffs on 1996's "Two Step." It all led up to a dramatic encore, when Matthews howled the 1998 rarity "Halloween," followed by a lengthy Carter Beauford drum solo that segued in fan favorite "Tripping Billies." The gig even impressed long time DMB producer Steve Lillywhite, who tweeted, "Home from on of the most incredible gigs I have ever seen. Period."

Fans can expect more deep cuts this summer: The band recently played "Seek Up, " which dates back to its club days in Charlottesville, Virginia. "There are so many songs, some that I've even forgottoen," says Tinsley. "I have a feeling that we're gonna be bringing things back from the past." The group has also been busting out lots of new material, including the delicate ballad "Mercy" and "Gaucho" where Matthews imagines a conversation with his kids about the America he grew up in. "Let me show you a movie/You know, we landed a man on the moon." he sings before the heartfelt chorus: "We gotta do much more than beleive if we really want to change things."

Recording is well underway on DMB's eighth album (due out in the fall), which they began cutting with Lillywhite in Seattle in January. "In a way it feels like the beginning again," says Tinsley. "I don't think that I've ever had as much fun in a studio session as this. It was a creative process where everybody was going for it and opening up. It just sounded like a DMB album from the past -[1994's] Under The Table and Dreaming, or even [1995's] Crush. This was the continuation of that."

Adds the violinist, "People allowed us to be ourselves for years. They still do. We're very grateful."