DMB Is SNL
Y'ever wonder why, every year, critics write articles about how "Saturday Night Live" is dead? Every year (save for a couple of golden years where a great cast sticks around, the writers are sharp and in the zeitgeist, and they invite John Goodman to be chubby and lovable as host), people write about how the show has gone downhill, and it's all over. But, Saturday Night Live does fine every year-- people watch it, and people love it.
As of the writing of this, Dave Matthews Band is seven shows into a summer-long tour (which will be followed by a European tour). In those seven shows, Dave and company have: 1) busted out four guests (with Bela Fleck and Emmylou Harris scheduled and publicized for later), 2) introduced two new songs, 3) played fifteen of the top twenty DMB songs (according to AntsMarching.org's 2010 countdown and fan poll), and 4) whipped out some crowd pleasing never-overplayed gems (for my money, Raven, Beach Ball, and Best Of What's Around are always welcome in a setlist).
So, why is everyone talking about how it's all downhill for Dave and crew this summer?
It's because it's easy. It's easy to talk about how "Saturday Night Live" is ruined because they don't have a Bill Murray or a Dana Carvey anymore. It's easy to talk about how Seth Meyers isn't as funny as Jimmy Fallon, who wasn't as funny as Conan, who wasn't as funny as Letterman as the host of "Late Night." It's easy to talk about how Dave Matthews Band isn't as good as they were in 2008, which wasn't as good as they were in 1997, which wasn't as good as they were in 1994. It's easy to complain about good things when they've had a history of being great.
But it's easy because it's lazy and disingenuous and (more often than not) untrue. To borrow a Wilco quote: "Every generation thinks it's the last." We complain because, "Man, it's not as great as it used to be. Everything's going downhill. And these damned kids are always on my lawn!!!"
The big complaint of this summer's tour has been setlist diversity (which isn't helped by the presence of three women who are, in fact, quite lovely). Of course, we'd all like (and by "we," I mean nerds, like me, who love the band so much they visit fan sites like this) to see some great rarities and fan favorites. No one would complain if Shotgun was pulled out (which is usually not how people react when shotguns are being pulled out). But, maybe this tour isn't the one for that.
It's just like "Saturday Night Live." Some years, the writers love writing "Coneheads" or "Celebrity Jeopardy" or "The Target Lady" every single week. And, some years, the writers throw out all old formulas and try new things. Either way, people complain-- either the show is too repetitive or it's too unfamiliar. Because every generation thinks it's the last.
The Lovely Ladies are our Chris Kattan. Some people like him-- but many do not. Either way, the writers at "Saturday Night Live" loved the guy and kept putting him in front of that camera. And critics wrote, as they always do, that "Saturday Night Live" was dead. And then other people said, "Well, if you don't like the show, then stop watching." And then other people said, "I'm just trying to make the show better by giving them suggestions." ...and y'know what happened? "Saturday Night Live" was fine. People watched it, and people loved it.
So, even though this website is full of people who love to nitpick and bicker (and why not-- that's part of the joy of being a "hardcore fan"), let's all just take a second to put some perspective to all of this. Dave and company have only played seven shows this tour-- so let's take a breath. The Dave Matthews Band is four of the most talented musicians in the world (with some incredible auxiliary musicians-- including the Lovely Ladies), and they've been entertaining for over 20 years. Everyone reading this loves them. The concerts will still be good, even if you don't think they're great anymore. But, you must trust them. They're "Saturday Night Live." They'll be around, they'll be loved, and they'll be worth seeing every chance you get.
The views and comments expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of antsmarching.org.