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Where Am I Going?

By Rob Theriaque
May 8, 2002

There’s been a lot of talk on the boards recently about “old times” and how we got started. So many great new fans have joined our community in the past year. I’ll admit, I was pessimistic with the release of Everyday that the fan base would become somewhat diluted by fans who only appreciated the band’s latest release, but these people have established themselves to be just as devoted as anybody.

A few recent threads have brought up the “old” days of tape trading and gave me (and the few remaining tape traders) some time to reminisce. Seeing “Maxell II Gold,” “Prewind,” and “Dubbing” in print again gave me chills. I’m only 20 years old, yet some people in this community can make me feel so old when I bring up the Minarets or Nancies Mailing Lists…

That said, why am I still here? Why haven’t I moved on?

It’s the Dave Matthews Band and everything that goes with them.

When you become a dedicated DMB fan, you aren’t becoming a fan of just music- you’re becoming a fan of an entire culture and very near a way of life. You quote Dave’s lyrics on a regular basis. You plan your summer based around the band’s tour. You sacrifice food to buy tickets. You skip finals to go to major shows. That’s just scratching the surface, however…

When you’re going to a show, your entire day is energized. You have everything planned out, knowing full well your plans are going to be blasted apart by traffic or an unexpected party. You get to the venue and your excitement builds, knowing in a couple of hours the house lights will go down, the tinny house music will go away, and you’ll hear tens of thousands of screaming fans going nuts as the shadowy figures emerge from the side of the stage, ambling up without any hint of hurry… They strap on their instruments, strum out a note here and there, Dave says something incoherent into the mic, and for the next 2-3 hours you are part of the Dave Matthews Band. You feed off their energy, their musicianship, their love for their job, and they in turn feed off your word-for-word screaming of lyrics, uncoordinated dancing, and sheer appreciation and love for their music. At the risk of being incredibly cliché, it’s magic.

One of my friends is in a sorority, and one of their “mottos” applies very well here: “From the outside looking in you can’t understand it, from the inside looking out you can’t explain it.” Until you’ve been to a DMB show and felt what it means to be a DMB fan, you may not know for certain why this band seems so important. Three hours with this band, however, can help make your life that much better for days, weeks, or even months… Every now and then you get a smell, sound, or feeling that brings you back… You can close your eyes and hear the opening notes of you favorite song… You’ll be chatting with somebody and you start sharing your experience at a show and it all comes rushing back… A DMB show is more than the three hours of music- it’s the lifetime of memories, the friends made, and the moments when it all comes rushing back.

One of the most exhilarating experiences is initiating a friend into our community. I’ve taken more than my share of DMB virgins to their first show. Everybody reacts differently. Some go for the friendship and the company, and don’t really have any particular love for the music, but by the time the house lights come back up, they’re rabid fans. Some are there to see what the hype is, and they leave with a total understanding. Some are huge fans already, but just haven’t had a chance to catch up with the band, and they leave with a brand new fanatical love.

This is what I love about taking somebody to DMB for the first time… I brought a particular person to her first show this year. She was already a fan of the band, but didn’t really know what to expect at a show. I explained everything as best as I could, but like I quoted earlier, from the inside looking out, you can’t quite get the feelings across. We had a great time walking around Boston and had a good dinner. We caught the beginning of a pre-show party, then walked into the Fleet. We found our seats. The opening band came out (if anybody caught Yerba Buena this year they understand our next move) and we went to walk around the Fleet. She ran into a co-worker who had also skipped work that night to come out to the Fleet, ironically enough (another side comment- you never know who you’ll run into- you could know of 20 people going to the show and run into a different 20 that you know). Finally, we sat back down as the stage was being readied for DMB. She started getting excited- nervous energy taking expression in jumpy legs, eyes looking everywhere to soak in the entire experience… You don’t want to miss anything. We went through the usual false-starts where house music songs end and people assume it’s because the band is coming out (I always laugh to myself when people jump up and start cheering. I wait for the house lights). After what seemed like two months of waiting, the house lights died, the house music cut out, and the band came out. It was a solid show, nothing spectacular, but it puts things in perspective when a first timer has a great time on a night when DMB wasn’t even at their best. This band is something special, and even when they don’t put on their best performance, it’s a magical evening. Between the buildup, anticipation, and great company, it was one for the books.

What about me? I was a DMB virgin once, right? My first show was January 27, 1995, at Leede Arena. This was a time when setlists truly didn’t change much night to night because DMB didn’t have a ton of material. Nobody seemed to care, however. My first in-person image of Dave Matthews was him coming out on stage, unshaven, rubbing sleep from his eyes. He was sportin’ the old Chet in his typical pajama pants. It’s an image that’s burned into my mind. For some things, you don’t need a camera.

So… Where am I going? Nowhere. Over the years I’ve been a member of this community, people have come and gone, the fan base has changed, the shows have become bigger and crazier, but the core of what makes this a part of my life remains unchanged. The Dave Matthews Band, its music, its energy, and the all-around love are what make this something that will remain part of my life for years to come.

To the fans that have been here, we can exchange that knowing smile of why we’re here.

To the new fans- welcome- you’re in for a hell of a ride, and it’s an incredibly fun and rewarding one.

The views and comments expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of antsmarching.org.


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