Dave Matthews Band Caravan, Friday: Dave Matthews Band + O.A.R. | Live review + photos
Dave Matthews Band became Dave Matthews Brand years ago. Nothing solidifies that observation like seeing the sheer number of people gathered to see him and his band close out the first night of his Caravan festival Friday. The fact that the group can sustain their own touring music festival with 35+ acts is proof positive that a whole lot of people really, really like Dave Matthews.
Before "Dave" came O.A.R., on the fest's second-biggest stage, Lakeside. These two bands go together like jam bands and hallucinogens. Both feature extended improvisation live, with bouncy, horn-driven songs and that jam-band-but-not-quite vibe. O.A.R. are almost ska, without the screaming or checkered-print crap, with a more feel-good vibe to jump around to.
If you jump to O.A.R., you sway reverently to Dave. His presence can be commanding, and when he launches into a solo, it's hard not to get caught up. Same with the other members of the band. They go hog wild, losing themselves to their instruments, and it's easy to see why so many people get into it. (You hear a lot of "I didn't get into them until I saw them live" with Matthews fans.)
These guys can go from folk to bluegrass to jazz-tinged rock to southern roots in the course of a few songs. It all seems to blend together at times, but with jam music, that is the point.
Mid-set, Dave announces: "I'm about to make some shit up." The audience goes nuts; it's what he does best. During "Don't Drink the Water," you could see him yelping rhythmically, building up to a primal yell where he throws his head back, mouth open wide, and sweating profusely as strobe lights burst. He probably doesn't have to work this hard at this point. One would assume he does it for the fans.