A couple weeks ago, Caryn, one of my very good friends from college, hit me up with a message that made my day: “I’ve got two tickets to Dave Matthews in Mountain View…wanna come?”
It had been a year since I saw her and 14 years since I’d last seen DMB in concert. So yes. Yes, I did.
The last time I saw Dave, I was with Caryn at Giants’ Stadium in New Jersey. Right in the middle of the encore, it started torrential down pouring and the crowd went wild. Instead of running for cover or leaving the show, 60,000 stoned college kids danced and sang in the rain, while Dave Matthews just kept right on playing “Two Step”—even through a few scary-close lightning strikes. It was the single coolest concert experience of my life. In fact, even Dave remembers it:
I knew this concert couldn’t top that. But I also felt something bubbling up inside as I revved up for the show: my youth. My Abercrombie-and-Fitch, tie-dyed T-shirt, music-loving, concert-going youth. Sure, I’ve been to a few shows over the last few years, but they’ve been big commercial to-dos. Kanye. Madonna. Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake. Very pop. Very much a big light and dance show. A little less about the music and more about the spectacle.
But Dave…Dave and his band love music and they just play the shit out of their songs. They’re the adult-contemporary version of a jam band, like Phish or the Grateful Dead if you gave them a shower and dressed them up in plaid button-downs.
There were a lot of mom jeans at the Dave Matthews Band concert. But I couldn’t judge because I wore my stretchy pants and my orthopedic flats. Watch me reach into this big barrel of fucks and give them out to no one. Because I was there to sing and dance (“la, la, la HEY, la la la HEY, la la la!”). And as the earthy smell of weed and patchouli wafted over the crowd, I suddenly forget about the minutiae of my day. The responsibilities on my shoulders, the to-do lists, the soccer games and team snacks, the deadlines, the dishes and grocery shopping…they were all gone.
Dave Matthews Band played quite a few songs I didn’t know. It didn’t really matter. Caryn and I were right back in 2001, making up stories about the older couple on an eHarmony date in front of us (we had a bet going to see how long they’d stay at the show before they took off to go make gross old-folk whoopie). And then, midway through the show, ignoring the girls next to us doing their best 1980s howls (“Owwwww! Yeah, Dave! Owwww, owwwwwww!”), I felt the same joy from Giants’ Stadium all those years back, . I turned to Caryn and grinned. We didn’t have to say a thing.
I danced like I hadn’t danced in a long time. I sweat and didn’t care. I walked a long way out of the concert so that we could catch an Uber back to our hotel. I expected to wake up and be in ridiculous pain. I didn’t. I just woke up in a shitty Motel 6 in Sunnyvale happy and just the slightest bit sore. It felt like a night at dance camp, minus the Tiger Balm.
To Caryn, I want to say: thank you so much! Something in me jiggered loose that night. I was happy on a level I hadn’t felt in a while. Purely happy without side thoughts creeping in bringing it down. And the beautiful thing is…the happy has continued on. It’s amazing what the power of music, dance, and long-time friendship can do for you. Just sprinkle on a little Dave Matthews, and all will be well.