Jam Central Station 7.21.12 - Buzzworthy Album Review - Dave Matthews Band - Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95 Posted by Jeff Modzelewski on 07.21.2012
The first official live Dave Matthews Band album is a classic!
Hey all. Thanks again for coming to check out some Jam. Hope things are going well for you, and I hope you've been seeing some good music. This week I decided to delve back into the archives for one of my favorite live albums from one of my favorite bands. This one was truly a defining moment for me musically. Hope you enjoy!
For those of you who don't know my history in music, I came into the "jam band" scene just around the time that widespread availability of soundboard shows was becoming prevalent. The creation of Nugs.net featuring soundboard releases from Phish, Widespread Panic, Umphrey's McGee, String Cheese Incident, and dozens of other artists meant that live recordings were becoming easier to access, and fans were beginning to expect near-immediate access to almost any show that they were at. This had been spurred on by the rise in the MP3 over the previous years. Instead of ordering CD's of shows (like Pearl Jam did in the early 00's on their tours), fans could download the shows and burn them onto disc themselves, or, more likely, put them on their iPods to listen to. Over the past few years we've seen this technology grow to the point where not having access to soundboard recordings is becoming more and more the exception, not the rule. Non-jam band artists like Metallica and Roger Daltry are even getting in on the act, releasing some or all of their live shows for fans.
It wasn't always that way.
Up until about 10 years ago, if you wanted a live recording of a band, you had few options. You could get involved in the tape-trading community through online message boards (or, prior to that, real interactions with fans at shows). These communities swapped copied tapes of their favorite artists. You learned how to "unpack" a tape and that you never, ever dubbed an audience recording on the "fast" mode on your dual tape player. You also learned how significantly the quality of these recordings degraded from generation to generation. You could spend $30+ for an "import" CD from a record store, if you knew where to look. Due to the underground and often illegal nature of these recordings, however, there was always some question of what you would be getting. Or you could simply wait for your favorite band to release an official live album.
An official live album was cause for celebration. It was basically like striking gold. You knew what you were going to be getting, it was "band approved," and you could be relatively confident that the quality of the recording was going to be light years ahead of any audience recordings. Fans ate these recordings up. For hardcore fans of the band, it was a way to immerse yourself in a live experience that most fans really only got to experience a couple of times a year. And for more casual fans of the band, it was a way to hear what all of the fuss was about. These live albums helped turn casual fans into hardcore fans. With the first true live album from the Dave Matthews Band, Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95, I was converted from a casual fan to a true fanatic.
This album came out in 1997, in between Crash and Before These Crowded Streets, but it's from a 1995 show on their Under The Table And Dreaming tour. This was around the time the band went from being mentioned along with The Spin Doctors and Blues Traveler and were truly coming into their own as a band with massive appeal and staying power. Instead of jumping on the moment and releasing a "best of" live album that featured all of their singles and a few other songs, Live at Red Rocks is a single show release, and not one supported primarily by radio hits. The album kicks off with a 13 minute rendition of "Seek Up," a song that casual fans likely wouldn't know, since it comes from their first, non-major label album. The band absolutely nails the song, from the opening solo through the passionate jam and closing. One of my favorite things about this song (and really the whole album) is how seamlessly guitarist Tim Reynolds fits in with the rest of the band. No need to take over, just a handful of fills that add to the ambiance of the song. They lead straight into "Proudest Monkey" from Crash, albeit with some different lyrics than the studio version. The band actually does five Crash songs on the album, and it's obvious that the structure and lyrics went through significant changes in the studio to the songs. Leroi's solo is absolutely fantastic on this track, a fast paced piece that contrasts with the slower song.
The opening notes of "Satellite" cause a major roar of approval from the crowd, and the band runs through a standard version of the song. This is followed up by an early "Two Step." The song wasn't yet the live tour de force that it would become, but it's a solid version with Tim's first major solo of the show. Dave takes over with the vocals in "Best of What's Around," and it's obvious that he's having a good time playing around with the song, and Leroi absolutely kills the closing solo. "Recently" includes the classic "Some People Do" intro, along with a bit of "Sunshine On My Shoulders," as a tribute to the location of the show. The band closes the song with the "Water/Wine" outro, a beautiful but short outro that was shelved for over 10 years after 1995. Another Crash song follows with "Lie In Our Graves." While I've always felt that most songs benefited from their studio treatment, this version (along with other pre-Crash versions) will always be the defining version of the song. Leroi continues to show himself to be a superstar with another great solo, especially with Tim playing around overtop of it.
The classic segue of "Dancing Nancies" -> "Warehouse" is next, and it's always a great pairing. Boyd gets his first extended solo in "Nancies," and the transition into "Warehouse" is awesome, and the "new" (at the time) intro (which evolved into the stop-time/"woo" intro that the band used for nearly a decade) is very cool, and unique to this part of DMB history. An energetic "Tripping Billies" is another highlight of this show, but it's followed by a lackluster "Drive In Drive Out." It may just be that this has always been one of my least favorite DMB songs from their "Big 3" albums, but this version in particular falls flat. The band makes up for it with the quiet and romantic "Lover Lay Down," doing a spot-on full band version of the song. Leroi solos during most of the song, adding some great small pieces to the verses and going off near the end. Tim also shows great restraint, just jumping in at select moments. "Rhyme and Reason" is a great example of how Leroi and Boyd were always able to work together to set the mood to a song, with the two both working in harmony and soloing off of each other, and Tim providing another great solo.
The band closes out the main set with the unreleased "#36" (which eventually morphed into "Everyday") segueing into "Ants Marching." Carter leads off "36" with a great drum intro (one of the few times on the album Carter gets his opportunity to stand out) into a solid version of a song that was basically unknown to anyone but hardcore fans both at the time of recording and at the release of the album. The segue into the snare intro of "Ants Marching" is seamless, and the song is a great version from this era. Dave opened the encore with a solo version of "Typical Situation," doing a great version of the song without the benefit of the band. The closing cover of "All Along the Watchtower" is another one that builds up from a slow paced intro to a powerful ending, with a solid jam and breakdown in the middle. "Watchtower" has become a defining cover for the band, and this version is one of the best released versions of the song.
This album was simply a watershed moment for me musically. It's powerful, it's exciting, and it shows the band truly coming into their own. Dave sounds great on the vocals, and the band fits together extremely well throughout. This was a risky live album in that it wasn't a collection of hits. Instead the band proved that they could carry a performance without needing to rely on the big name songs, and that they were able to take songs that people weren't familiar with and turn them into important parts of their set.
As a long-standing DMB fan, this is a show that I come back to often when I'm looking for my live DMB fix. Not because it's the best live performance that they've released, even though it is a very good set. I come back to it out of familiarity. Today, DMB fans have over 50 live performances that have been released for them to choose from. Fans of other jam bands have literally hundreds of live releases that have been put out. For over two years, this was the only live full-band album that DMB fans could get their hands on. That means that, for fans like me, it was listened to over and over again. I know every note on this album. Every Dave howl, every Leroi squeal, every Carter drum roll. And I think that's something that's missing nowadays. Fans have so many choices for live albums that they miss the intimate connection that you can have with a single show. I love being able to access dozens of shows from my favorite bands, but I also miss the familiarity that I had with early releases like this one. So while you're downloading dozens of Phish, String Cheese Incident, Grateful Dead, or Widespread Panic shows, do yourself a favor and pick one out, grab a few friends, and really listen to it. Listen to it until you know it and love every note. That, for me, is a true measure of a fan.
Cruise with Coachella
Coachella, not satisfied with a pair of sold-out festivals each April, will be hosting a pair of cruises this December. Both cruises depart from Ft. Lauderdale. On December 16-19, fans will visit the Bahamas, while on December 19-23 the destination will be Jamaica. Both cruises will feature Hot Chip, Pulp, Yeasayer, Girl Talk, James Murphy, Sleigh Bells, and others.
Gov't Mule to close out 2012 at The Beacon
As has been their style as of late, Gov't Mule will once again ring in the New Year at The Beacon Theatre. They'll be playing two dates at the legendary venue, likely Dec. 30 to go along with Dec. 31. Details will be announced soon.
Mumford and Sons announce new album
Mumford and Sons will be releasing the follow up to their insanely successful Sigh No More on September 24. The album, Babel will feature a dozen tracks, including many that the band has already debuted live. The band will be on the road throughout August on a tour that is already almost sold out.
July 19-22, 2012
Gathering of the Vibes
July 19-22, 2012
Performers include: Primus, Phil Lesh & Friends, Bob Weir & Bruce Hornsby with Branford Marsalis, STS9, 7 Walkers, Micky Hart Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, and many others.
July 26-29, 2012
Performers include: Michael Franti & Spearhead, Leftover Salmon, Matisyahu, Galactic, Punch Brothers, Toubab Krewe, Drew Emmitt Band, and many others.
Newport Folk Festival
July 28-29, 2012
Ft. Adams State Park
August 2-5, 2012
Rancho Del Rio & State Bridge, CO
Performers include: Railroad Earth, Elephant Revival, The Contribution, Honkytonk Homeslice, Poor Man's Whiskey featuring Michael Kang performing "Dark Side of the Moonshine," Danny Barnes, and a special Nershi's Joint Set.
Newport Jazz Festival
August 3-5, 2012
Ft. Adams State Park
Performers include: Tedeschi Trucks Band, 3 Clarinets, Gretchen Parlato &Lionel Loueke, Pedrito Martinez Group, and many others.
August 3-5, 2012
Performers include: The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg, Justice, Sugar Rios, Florence + The Machine, The Shins, MGMT, Garbage, and many others.
August 3-5, 2012
Performers include: Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Keys, Jack White, Bassnectar, Florence & The Machine, At The Drive In, Justice, and many others.
Outside Lands Festival
August 10-12, 2012
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA
August 10-12, 2012
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Performers include: Multiple sets of moe., Umphrey's McGee, SOJA, and many others to be announced.
August 17-19, 2012
Performers include: 7 Walkers, Greensky Bluegrass, BoomBox, The MacPodz, The Ragbirdz, and many others.
August 23-25, 2012
August 23-26, 2012
Camp Hidden Meadows
Performers include: Zach Deputy, Brothers Past, The Motet, Euforquesta, That 1 Guy, and others. Headliners yet to be announced.
Music on the Mountaintop
August 24-26, 2012
Grandfather Mountain Campground
The event will be hosted by Railroad Earth. Other artists will be announced later.
Summer Set Festival
August 24-26, 2012
Performers include: Umphrey's McGee, Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, Lotus, Nas, Black Star, Excision, Zed's Dead, Matt & Kim, Rebolution, and many others.
Dark Star Jubilee
August 31-September 2, 2012
Performers include: 3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Mickey Hart Band, 7 Walkers, Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson, Keller Williams, The Infamous Stringdusters, Cornmeal, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Donna the Buffalo, Rumpke Mountain Boys, and many others.
The Werk Out Music and Arts Festival
September 20-23, 2012
Performers include: 2 nights of The Werks, ekoostik hookah, Rusted Root, Everyone Orchestera, EOTO, DrFameus, The Heavy Pets, and many more.
September 22, 2012
Performers include: Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Jack Johnson, ALO, and many others.
October 5-6, 2012
Mann Music Center
Performers include: The Disco Biscuits, Diplo, A-Trak, RJD2, Paper Diamond, Papadosio, and many others.
Harvest Music Festival
October 11-13, 2012
Yonder Mountain String Band will host the event and perform multiple sets. More artists will be announced later.
Austin City Limits
October 12-14, 2012
Performers include: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Black Keys, Jack White, Florence + The Machine, The Avett Brothers, Umphrey's McGee, Big Gigantic, Bassnectar, The Roots, Gotye, Weezer, Thievery Corp., and many others.
Hangtown Halloween Ball
October 26-28, 2012
El Dorado County Fairgrounds
Performers include: Railroad Earth (3 shows), The Del McCoury Band, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe performing a Beastie Boys tribute, Blind Pilot, The Travelin' McCoury's featuring Keller Williams, Emmitt-Nershi Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Greensky Bluegrass, and many more.
November 8-11, 2012
Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: Umphrey's McGee, Soulive, Lotus, Perpetual Groove, Break Science, The Heavy Pets, and many others.
Strings & Sol
December 12-16, 2012
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Yonder Mountain String Band will perform 3 shows, and Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, and The Infamous Stringdusters will each be performing 2 shows.
December 16-19, 2012 (Bahamas)
December 19-23, 2012 (Jamaica)
Departing from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Performers include: Pulp, Hot Chip, Yeasayer, Girl Talk, James Murphy, Sleigh Bells, and many others.
December 17-21, 2012
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Umphrey's McGee, The Disco Biscuits, and STS9 will each perform two shows. STS9 will also perform a special midnight set commemorating the beginning of the new Great Cycle of the Mayan Calendar.
Island Exodus IV
January 16-20, 2013
Gov't Mule will host the event and perform multiple sets. No word on other performers.
Jam in the Sand
March 1-5, 2013
Breezes Grand Resort
Dark Star Orchestra's first Jamaican event. This event will feature multiple DSO shows as well as three Keller Williams sets and other activities
April 12-14, 2013
April 19-21, 2013
Before I go, I have to say that looking through old DMB videos from the mid 90's is awesome. This is when I fell in love with the band, and they are just having such fun on stage. Absolutely brings me back, and I wish that I started seeing that band earlier than I did. Anyways, be sure to head over to the Jam Central Station Facebook page to enter the contest to win tickets to Hoxeyville, and check out JCS on Twitter as well. Until next week, Jam On!