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September 21, 2014
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Running on empty

Shelley Cushing and her dad, “Buzz” were attending their 91st and 45th DMB concerts, respectively. Having driven from Beverly, MA for the concert, Shelley gushed that “Bethel Woods is the most gorgeous venue we’ve seen the band perform in, by far.”


I don’t drink, and know virtually nothing about wine, but the crowd was impressed, and I overheard raves about the product. Partner Reeder is quoted (in the promotional material) as saying, “When you’re working with Dave, you want to make sure whatever you’re doing has soul.” I kept those words in mind as I made my way to the pavilion (www.bethelwoodscenter.org ) for the DMB concert, having already done a bit of research on the band and its founder.

Formed in Charlottesville, VA in 1991, the band’s official website (www.davematthewsband.com) has a lot to say, including that their “lyrical themes focus on topics ranging from love, sex, and the enjoyment and appreciation of life, to ending racism and political and antiwar statements.” Best known for their annual summer-long tours and live concerts, I quickly discovered that the DMB audience is also big on tailgating parties and a “peace-love-happiness” mentality that, quite frankly, I did not observe during my stay at the show.

The concert was populated mostly by young, “new age” hippie wannabes, and the parking lot was filled with clouds of smoke and expensive vehicles, with nary a flowered VW bus in sight. Decked out in shiny, brand new (expensive looking) shabby chic, the DMB Facebook fans had voted on line for their set list choices, and at least 75 of them had won the right to be standing (and swaying and swooning) in the pit, as close to the lip of the stage as the press. Attempting to get a good shot with our cameras, the “in crowd” was less than accommodating and pushed the photographers (myself included) out of their way, regardless of the fact that we had informed them that we were only present for a few minutes.

Snarling and rude, these rabid fans left me missing the kind, loving and charitable attributes that I had heard so much about, and the ushers (who were busily policing the grounds) seemed to be on a constant vigil for gate crashers and seat squatters, who were (apparently) in abundance. After the umpteenth check of my tickets, I gave in and complained to the house manager, who apologized on behalf of the staff and made sure that I wasn’t bothered again, but by that point, my evening was in tatters.