"It's called Ruoff Music Center, but it's spelled Deer Creek." - Antsmarching.org Forums

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Old 06-25-2022, 05:17 AM   #1
kazman101
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"It's called Ruoff Music Center, but it's spelled Deer Creek."


Navigating the roundabouts upon roundabouts meandering farther north from the Fishers suburbs, there was a palpable excitement in the air that can only be experienced driving to a Dave show. The firedancer car decals, the personalized license plates, and the orange cones of traffic control that guide you towards the lot are a spiritual homecoming no matter what venue you're going to. With seventy shows under my belt and having seen the boys play all over this country, it was time for me to knock off one of my bucket list venues: Ruoff Music Center Deer Creek.

Navigating into the venue was easy enough, opting to drop the car towards the rear lawn entrance. Passing the RV's at the entrance and seeing the campgrounds in the distance was my first clue that something was different. The lots were jubilant and vibrantly colorful with flags and easy ups littering the rows of cars. There's something about a Dave lot that just feels like home, and this was no exception.

My party meandered around the venue towards the stage left/house right entrance where throngs of fans were already chomping at the bit in excitement for their opportunity to enter the venue and secure their lawn spots and Meh-thane posters. The sun beating down on our heads was no match for the false vibrato of a couple of beers and Jimmy John's Spicy East Coast Italian sub. The gate security for the venue was surprisingly some of the best that I've ever seen in a Live Nation shed; everyone knew their jobs, was kind and courteous, and efficient at getting folks through expediently. As the clock struck 5:45, the Warehouse early entry gates flew open and with one scan of a ticket, you were off to the races. I was able to get in early enough to secure a poster and event shirt with relative ease. Wasn't exactly a great print for night one, but I'm afflicted in the dreaded "I've-already-got-every-show-poster-I've-ever-been-to" that is a strain on both my psyche and my wallet. Anyhoo...

The venue itself wasn't necessarily anything to look at upon first glance. Truth is that with the way that Live Nation builds these sheds, the venues can easily blend together in a sea of green stadium seats. However, I didn't start to see some major differences once I got more acclimated. For starters, the pavilion itself is a pretty mild incline from pit to the edge of the lawn. Hell, in comparison to places like Mansfield and Hartford, it's essentially flat. The next thing I noticed was the vast lawn and the massive repeater arrays that accompanied the video screens. That coupled with the already massive stage array confirmed that I was staring down the gun of a beastly sound system. After catching up with some friends, I decided to take a bit of a walk around the lawn and I was pleased to see that the sightlines are pretty solid for the entirety. Top, bottom, left, or right, as long as you're not standing right behind one of the monstrous columns, I'd have no issues with being on the lawn for future shows.

The chatter around the venue was obviously at the "rumors" that Tim was sitting out this weekend's shows. I use the term "rumors" loosely since the second you looked on stage it was obvious that Tim's amps and other equipment were nowhere to be found. I still find it weird that DMB is inconsistent with announcing lineup changes regarding COVID, especially since we'd find out later that Tim had tested positive yesterday. There was tons of conjecture amongst fans about what a DMB show without Tim in this era of the band would look like. It had been fourteen years since that had happened and there were theories of songs that would inevitably have to get cut in his absence since Dave leans on his sound for a lot of the current rotation of songs. The general vibe that people were giving off was a third worried for his health, a third tepidly excited at the prospect of a show with no "Tim C/DC", and a third eagerly anticipating what this will shape this weekend into.

At around 7:55, Sublime's "Santeria" cut from the house sound system and the roar of the band walk on started to crescendo from the pit to the lawn. Smiles abound from both on stage and off as everyone gets into position. From that telltale "Huh-Ah" and snare hit of "Pig" the crowd went into a frenzy and we were off to the races. I've been lucky enough to see one other "Pig" opener, and, man, it does not disappoint. The band was getting into its groove and the crowd was feeding some of the biggest energy I've ever seen from a show outside a SPAC N2 crowd during the encore break. As the crowd settled after "Pig", Dave addressed the elephant in the room (or lack thereof) which was Tim's absence and the crowd responded in joyful cheers wishing Mr. Reynolds a speedy recovery.

"Granny" in the two spot was a great way for the band to ride that feverish "Pig" opener. Every time you get to yell back to the band "Love! Baby!" is essentially a right of passage for a DMB concert goer. Dave then decided to firmly cement that the next song, "Walk Around the Moon", is about a magic mushroom trip. He had been subtly hinting at it during the tour, but he's been far more direct about it in the past few weeks. Hell, in Hartford, the video monitor literally showed mushrooms during the song this year. Either way, a great version of a song that's really grown on me since its debut. With three songs in, I realized that I wasn't actively feeling like there was sonically missing from the mix with Tim's absence, and that's very much due to two people: Buddy Strong & Rashawn Ross. These two gentlemen are the heroes of this show, pulling major weight to make up for Tim's parts in both solos and additional layering.

Dave decided to give Creek a venue debut with a smoldering version of "Break Free", which the band absolutely crushed. The band has gotten a lot more confident in that song, carving out this little pocket to just groove over while the crowd sways wishing they had someone that could fill their cup. The band leaned into this more low-key feeling during outro that built to a punchy finish. "Jimi Thing" decides to come out and play much to the vexation of this forum's userbase. Always a crowd favorite and always hated by Ants, "Jimi" gave us the confirmation of the other "rumor" that had been circulating before the show: Preservation Hall Jazz Band was coming to sit in. After playing with Josh Groban the night earlier, the quartet of Ben Jaffe (Sousaphone), Branden Lewis (Trumpet), Clint Maedgen (Saxophone), and Revon Andrews (Trombone) decided to spend their day off hanging out with the Dave Matthews Band. While it wasn't initially planned for them to come on for this song, Dave waved them on stage during the first verse. Their all white outfits brought cheers from the crowd as Rashawn had to conduct them through the song in order to get entrances and solo swaps timed correctly. Rashawn had done something similar for Ben the Sax Guy during MSG '21 and did a great job of keeping the song moving. As someone who generally loathes Jimi for various reasons, this was actually a really fun version that saw a lot of explorative soloing as the band opted for the Sly & The Family Stone's "I Want To Take You Higher" as an outro only to be drowned out by fan chants of "Thank You" echoing through the pavilion. Leave it to DMB fans to chant for the wrong Sly song while it's actually being played.

From there, it was clear that we were gonna stay in a very horny corner with Preservation Hall for a couple of songs. The much maligned "That Girl Is You" gets a play, but I'm of the opinion that while the song itself is more apt to be used to torture inmates at Guantanamo Bay on a regular basis, PHJB guest versions are the only ones of the song that I can tolerate let alone borderline enjoy. That's mostly because I'm a sucker for a good second line band in almost any circumstance and the fact that I've been quoted as having bad taste. "What Would You Say" faired really well from the PHJB augment as well. A tried and true classic that knows not how to overstay its welcome.

With PHJB now off stage, the band decided to jump into some old staples to ride the crowd's energy. "Grey Street" continues its stay in the pantheon of champions, always guaranteed to make the crowd lost their minds once the third verse gets played. A short stop with a more pensive and restrained "Grace Is Gone" after some quick "Where Are You Going" teases from Dave took the energy down a bit. I'm always a fan of Grace and it was as solid a version as they've been putting out on this tour and years prior. The band then decided to give the crowd sonic whiplash by smacking them in the face with "Tripping Billies" to try and recapture that energy they had before Grace which was successful in some regards.

Next came "You & Me", a song that has become far more on my radar this year due to the newly named "Hope For Tomorrow" intro that Dave has been tinkering with as a prelude to the song since Atlanta. The "song" has been growing over the last month and has even started to gain lyrics in some performances. While "You & Me" has been consistent ever since Big Whiskey's release, this intro has made me more interested in the song than I have been in years. A bit more than half way through the show and we get the trusty "Dancing Nancies > Warehouse" combo that has been front and center for the entire 2022 tour. I'm personally thrilled to see it getting played as much as it is, and the crowd very much agreed.

To follow up the earlier teases, the band gave a standard issue "Where Are You Going" followed up by "She", which was certainly a "creative" choice in pacing this setlist. But it gave me a bit more time to reflect on what Tim's absence had brought to the show in a sort of "addition by subtraction" manner. Buddy consistently throughout the night was taking on a lot of heavy lifting in terms of soloing, Dave's guitar was significantly higher in the mix, and the horns (both DMB and PHJB) had done a lot to make sure that there was no glaring hole in any of the songs. I will say, hearing Buddy explore more opportunities to use his Behringer Poly D in tandem with his Nord Piano brought a ton of more prog rock elements that I was a huge fan of.

We were heading towards the end of the night and what I would consider the apex of this show. This version of "Lie in Our Graves" puts Buddy's soloing abilities on full display and to say that he passed with flying colors is an understatement. His solo was playful, delicate, and definitely a more full display of his piano talents than we normally get to see in the average DMB set. The crowd ate it up and gave the perfect opportunity for PHJB to come back on to add to "Can't Stop". Again, not my particular choice for the seventeen slot, but that's just me. But we all as a crowd knew what was happening once PHJB started into their song "Joe Avery's Blues" being accompanied by Jeff, Rashawn, and Carter ... It's time to start marching two by two folks.

Over the next eleven minutes, the crowded stage would see tons of solo swapping, dancing, and a line of brass instruments walking all over the stage as the band and crowd smiled ear to ear. While I always try to think about my enjoyment at the shows, this version of "Ants Marching" will stay in my head and in this review as one of the coolest simply because of just how happy everyone on that stage was. I don't think I've seen Dave and Carter smile as much as they did during the solo section of that song. Hell, Jeff was laughing and dancing in the middle of the stage as PHJB led him and Rashwan in an impromptu second line march towards Buddy. I think that's something a lot of people forget; as much as we can bitch and moan about shows for various reasons, the fact that after almost thirty years that these men get on stage and have special moments like this on stage for us to enjoy and they actively have fun doing it is something few musicians can say in their career.

As the band walked off for the encore break, it was pretty clear what the E1 slot was given today's historic US Supreme Court decision and Dave's outspoken nature regarding women's reproductive rights over the last couple of years. With a very brief comment about the reason he wanted to play the song, "Sister" was strummed along to what was an already emotionally charged crowd. Without getting into the politics of it too deeply, I will say for me it felt as though this performance had a degree of pain to it that was palpable to both Dave and the fans in the stands.

Moving into the last song of the night, "You Might Die Trying" takes a fair amount of people (at least in my group of friends) by surprise since it's a fairly Tim heavy song. I was curious to see what they were going to do with it, and sure enough they defaulted to Buddy to pick up the slack in place of Tim's solo. A rather unique version that I'm looking forward to listening to more and digesting over the next few weeks. And with all that, at just after 10:40, the band gave a wave and "see ya later" to Deer Creek to close out Night One.

Walking back to the car, I took some time to marinade on the show that I had seen. On paper, I'd have graded the show as a B-/C+ mostly due to my personal dislike for a quarter of the songs on the setlist. That being said, I do think that this show gets a fair amount of extra credit due to the fact that it was tailored to songs that were more horn heavy and Buddy heavy in order to compensate for no Tim. Add in the sheer power of this crowd that I was not expecting and this show sits at a firm B in my eyes. DMB is notorious for having the "One Bad/Meh Night, One Great Night" mentality when it comes to two night stands, so if anything that makes me more excited for Night Two and what surprises it has in store for the crowd in Noblesville.
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  • Old 06-25-2022, 11:48 AM   #2
    Hahninator
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    Re: "It's called Ruoff Music Center, but it's spelled Deer Creek."

    Fantastic review. Summed up the night flawlessly. Really good.
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    Old 06-25-2022, 12:14 PM   #3
    Xcacel
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    Re: "It's called Ruoff Music Center, but it's spelled Deer Creek."

    Thatís more than a review, it is the story of the whole experience. I love it, Zach!
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    Old 06-26-2022, 05:45 AM   #4
    rizzor
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    Re: "It's called Ruoff Music Center, but it's spelled Deer Creek."

    Any updates on the injury Carter suffered to his thumb?
    How about Tim’s ��?
    Wish all to be well & comfortable soon! ����
    Any concerns tour will be delayed/postponed?
    Asking for a friend … ��
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    Old 06-27-2022, 12:14 PM   #5
    daveindyman
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    Re: "It's called Ruoff Music Center, but it's spelled Deer Creek."

    This was an awesome review.... looking forward to a N2 one if there is one.
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    Old 06-27-2022, 04:51 PM   #6
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    Re: "It's called Ruoff Music Center, but it's spelled Deer Creek."

    I miss these. Thank you for doing it. I hope you attended and will share N2 with us also!
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