By Dan Apczynski
The stage is set at the 2009 Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco’s sprawling Golden Gate Park, but the namesake and front man of Saturday night’s headliner, the Dave Matthews Band, prefers not to think about it. “I don’t dwell too much on where we are, just try to get it right,” Matthews says. “I’ll think about it afterwards—quickly if it goes well and longer if it doesn’t.” His sincerity makes it almost too easy to accept his humble position, and the win-some/lose-some perspective makes for a fair enough assessment from someone who has had a year like Matthews—his band’s new album, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, was certified platinum just over 12 months after the passing of dear friend and DMB saxophonist LeRoi Moore (the intended “king” from the album’s title).
The band’s evening set is drawing a throng of devotees who have already begun reserving their spots at the main stage by early afternoon. Backstage, Matthews picks up a beautiful Taylor acoustic (with fretboard inlay of the word “Grux” and a king’s crown illustration from the album’s liner notes) and says, “It’s funny, because I always think, ‘Why does Acoustic Guitar magazine want to talk to me? That guy is a guitar player. I just hold onto it so I have something to do with my hands.’”