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Monday, August 20, 2007

Dave Matthews plays Blossom; region's Paxil intake to increase 32%

Posted By on Mon, Aug 20, 2007 at 12:45 PM

Dave Matthews looks over his shoulder for the grim reaper, but sees only large piles of money.
As you’ve probably heard from the chick in the cubicle next to you, the Dave Matthews Band plays Blossom tonight. It will mark the 47th time since 1992 that Matthews has made the Blossom crowd erupt at the mention of “burning one.” Should be pretty sweet. Not that you give a shit, but I won’t be there; I’ll be at the House of Blues, where Dave himself no doubt wishes he’d be, watching Ozomatli rip a damned hole in the East Fourth District. But that’s not to that say I’m above DMB. Like every other tight-polo-shirt-wearing douche at my alma mater, the esteemed Generic Mid-Sized and Vaguely Religious Private University, I spent much of my senior year trying to seamlessly slip “Crush” into the boombox while fumbling to unhook sorority girls’ bras, only to have them run away screaming for help. In the years since, most of my peers have denounced the band, writing it off as pop pap not worthy of space in their iPods. I suspect this is because they struck out with the “Crush” move so often that they blamed Dave, and started seducing the ladies with contemporary crooners like John Mayer (“One pair of candy lips and/Your bubblegum tongue”), Akon (“I see you windin’ n grindin’ up on that pole … I wanna fuck you”), and other such romantics. But I’ve come to appreciate Matthews’ songwriting. Because while he’s still known best for his longing odes to the ladies and occasional references to getting blazed, he’s really the best kind of songwriter: a dark, death-obsessed drunk. Take his most recent album, Live at Radio City, a live accoustic set with guitarist Tim Reynolds and currently the second-best selling album on iTunes. The same moments get the crowd woo-hooing here as on the previous 434 live albums Matthews has put out: the opening note of “Crash;” a reference to “burning one” in “When the World Ends;” another reference to getting high in “Crush;” and the old hey-I-changed-this-song-just-for-this-tour-stop move in “Dancing Nancies.” But between the screams, Matthews lays down songs so dark, I would happily play them at my funeral, if I didn’t think they’d make someone whack himself on the spot, stealing the one moment of attention I actually sort of earned. The album opens with “Bartender,” the battle cry of a man scared he’ll be forced to check out of Hotel Consciousness early, and pleading with the front desk in the sky for a late check out time:
If I go Before I'm old Oh, brother of mine Please don't forget me if I go Bartender, please Fill my glass for me With the wine you gave Jesus that set him free After three days in the ground
Translation: Holy shit. What’s that on my knee? Great. Knee cancer. Who gets knee cancer? I’ll be dead in three weeks. I really hope there’s a heaven. From there, he transitions into “Where the World Ends,” a more inclusive death song in which not just the narrator but the whole world dies. Then it’s “Stay or Leave,” which as far as I can tell is not about death, but is worth mentioning because it’s somehow one of his best songs (when performed acoustically with Reynolds) and one of his worst (on his solo album, Some Devil). The album then moves through “Save Me,” a bluesy plea for eternal life, or at least the illusion of it (“You don't need to prove a thing to me/ Just give me faith, make me believe”). Three songs later it’s onto “Gravedigger,” perhaps his least subtle nod to Senor Reaper. That’s followed, eventually, by “The Maker,” “Lie in Our Graves,” and “Some Devil.” This compilation, like most of the band’s, doesn’t include “Pig,” a peppy number off of Before These Crowded Streets in which Matthews actually apologizes for his tendency to “dwell on this dying thing,” then goes onto remind you that you’re gonna die some day, so just shut up and live with it.
Is this not enough The blessed sip of life Is it not enough Staring down at the ground Oh then complain and pray More from above Greedy little pig
The album finishes with a bonus track, “Ants Marching,” which is secretly the band’s darkest work, an uplifting-sounding jam about the mundane moments – teeth-brushing and commuting and longing for a childhood mulligans – that make up the time before we all, yes, die. The song has the odd effect of making you excited to take on the day while mocking the fact that you’ll do almost assuredly the same shit you did yesterday, fail to appreciate it, and then, in all likelihood, be diagnosed with knee cancer. And die. This, of course, is all incredibly obvious to anyone who’s listened carefully to the band’s music or read anything about Matthews. “Love and death, or sex and death, those have always been on my mind,” he told upon the release of Some Devil. “They’re good themes. What else is there, really?” But still, when I see 19-year-old girls with DMB stickers in the windshields of their Civics, or throngs of flip-flop-wearing frat boys slyly passing joints on the Blossom lawn, I always wonder if they appreciate, or even realize, what’s going on between the “Hike up your skirt” sing-alongs and the weed woo-hoos. ‘Cause to me, that’s the stuff worth woo-hooing, the stuff worthy of lighting up for. – Joe P. Tone

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