Dave Matthews Band at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 5/16/2014
Dave Matthews Band
Photos by Jim Bricker
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
May 16, 2014
If it's May, it must be another Dave Matthews Band show.
The venerable ensemble made its annual late spring stop at the CWMP last Friday night, enjoying unseasonably temperate weather (Dave himself commented on the refreshing lack of humidity) and mixing things up somewhat, playing one acoustic and one electric set for an arena of mostly appreciative fans.
I say "mostly" because -- this being Houston -- it's hard to understand why so many people pay $75 and up for tickets when they're only paying attention about one-third of the time. Then again, this being the DMB, you're really not hearing a lot that's new, are you?
I'll give this to the guy: he's punctual. Judging by the cluster fuck I observed at the box office, nobody really expected them to take the stage at 7 (in spite of it being stated on both his web site and info posted at the Pavilion). Maybe they just weren't familiar with a show starting while the sun was still up, but start he did, accompanied by acoustic guitar and the rest of the unplugged band.
And admittedly, it was a pretty enjoyable experience. There was more banter than usual, and again, I have to credit the weather. You know what can happen when a band isn't used to Houston's humidity. Opening with "Bartenders" from Busted Stuff and including crowd favorites "Satellite" (the only offering from the band's debut album, Under the Table and Dreaming) and "Tripping Billies."
I say "crowd favorites" because these were among the only songs when it seemed like the audience stopped having conversations and listened (or at least held still long enough to record the songs with their phones). Holy shit, Houston: shut the fuck up once in a while.
A high point of the acoustic set was a cover of Sixto Rodriguez's "Sugar Man." Rodriguez, Matthews helpfully reminded some of us, is a Detroit musician who released two unheralded (in the US) albums and then faded to obscurity, except in Matthews' native South Africa, where he was arguably more popular than Elvis. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go watch the excellent 2012 doc, Searching for Sugar Man.
[Not so fun fact: SFSM director Malik Bendjelloul passed away last week at the age of 36.]
The acoustic section was the most I've enjoyed a Dave Matthews Band concert in, well, ever. So of course they had to ruin it by doing a second, electric set.
Review continues on the next page.