The Dave Matthews Band
North Charleston Coliseum
(Almost) everything in the Dave Matthews Band is carefully orchestrated. Guest guitarist Tim Reynolds takes a big solo on “Proudest Monkey.” Boyd Tinsley first leaps across the stage with his fiddle in full swing during “Funny the Way It Is,” after a thoughtfully placed “Satellite” to work the crowd early in the set. Trumpeter Rashawn Ross gets his big moment in “Spaceman.”
All the while, an other-worldly, U2-rivaling light rig morphs over the band, with three interworking rings of high-powered beams spotlighting the far reaches of the Coliseum with rainbows of color.
DMB’s 2010 show is a staggering production — one that apparently requires 15 tour buses and a dozen 18-wheelers, according to our count (and confirmed by the outdoor backstage security guard). The band partnered with Brita onsite at the show to encourage water filters and reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles, but that environmental outreach didn’t phase the fan with the green colored “What’s One More Tour Bus?” poster in the crowd.
Not to be negative … the 10,000ish person crowd at the Dave show was enthusiastic, appreciative, and orderly. Unlike the happy chaos of the Phish or Panic shows at the Coliseum, the jam-rock fans of the Dave variety largely held their proverbial shit together. Of course, there weren’t long periods of “space” in DMB’s jams to inspire confused drug-induced freak-outs, either. Still, the band was at their best when improvising.
“Jamming” within DMB is largely a one-person-at-a-time endeavor, but the night’s finest moments came in unscripted opportunities, including Trombone Shorty’s ridiculously inspired guest solo on “Cornbread,” saxophonist Jeff Coffin’s mind blowing statement during “Lying in the Hands of God,” and drummer Carter Beauford’s seizure-inducing explosion during the set closing “Two Step.”
Beauford, in fact, wins DMB MVP — at least for Charleston’s show. Whether he was lightly working cymbals with mallets while singing impeccable high harmony on “I’ll Back You Up,” or leading the band through the time changes of “Shake Me Like a Monkey,” he never flubbed. The two white gloves he wore were just an added touch to the world-class rhythm keeper within.
One veteran DMB fan/friend commented that the show was “good but not great.” It struck me that DMB has worked out a very careful balance between fluidity and structure. When jams occurred, they were later in the show, (“Crush,” “Two Step”), and the whole band always clearly knew where they were going. There was no suspense of surprise segues to sneak up and suggest themselves to the band or audience. But with a varying setlist each night, bouncing between new songs and true DMB classics like “I’ll Back You Up” and “Lie in our Graves,” the band keeps the audience anticipatory and interested.
They’ve got a mold, or a series of them, and they’re dependably polished and high caliber.