Dave Matthews Band brought an eclectic mix of its unique catalog of songs and covers to an enthusiastic crowd of 17,500 at the Lakeview Amphitheater in Syracuse on Wednesday June 22. The show marks the first sold out show at the newly opened amphitheater.
Fans were a bit apprehensive about the traffic, the no tailgating policy and the venue’s ability to handle the large crowd, but the venue seemed to do a good job managing traffic. Shuttles were running constantly to and from alternate parking locations as far away as downtown Syracuse. The no tailgating policy was generously overlooked. People were having a good time enjoying a few drinks but it didn’t appear that anyone was out of control. However, a no pop-up tent and no grill policy was strictly enforced. Some lighting could be added to improve visibility toward the exits and in the parking lots and they definitely need to add some additional porta-potties. The sound quality and the views are the best I’ve experienced compared to other amphitheaters in the northeast.
Dave Matthews Band took the stage around 8:30 and opened with their classic tune “Warehouse,” followed by “When the World Ends” and mega hit “Crash Into Me.” It seemed as if every single person in the audience knew every song as they belted out the words with every breath. The audience continued singing and dancing through “Don’t Drink the Water.” The band slowed things down with “Stay or Leave” and immediately got the crowd revved up again with fan favorite “#41,” where Boyd Tinsley had the audience cheering as he showcased his awe inspiring violin skills.
As the band is currently on tour celebrating their 25th anniversary before they go on a hiatus in 2017, they had no problem celebrating as fans jumped up and down, pumped their fists and occasionally took the lead singing parts of songs. At one point the fans lead a chant of “Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself,” to which Matthews took a step back and treated the audience to his trademark impish grin and eyebrow raise.
Between songs, Matthews was relatively quiet, thanking the audience and remarking about the beauty of the venue. He did leave fans hopeful by stating, “I hope we can come back here and play for y’all again sometime.” The celebration continued as the band paced through a nineteen song set. Stefan Lessard rocked a beautiful six string bass for the occasion. Carter Beauford, smiling as always, pounded the drums so fast at some points it looked like his hands were vibrating. Guitarist Tim Reynolds zipped up and down the fret board, producing intricate and unique sounds while making it look completely effortless.
Jeff Coffin (saxophone) and Rashawn Ross (trumpet) were joined by saxophonist and old friend, Sam Kininger. Kininger has played with Ross in Lettuce and Soulive’s Shady Horns Section. The horn section showed they are more than just an accompaniment as they blared in perfect harmony through “What Would You Say” and “Jimi Thing.”
Matthews showed his silly side as he borrowed a party hat from an audience member and wore it through the band’s almost hilarious version of Prince cover “Sexy Mother F*cker” to end the main part of the set. You would think that after almost two and a half hours that the fans would start to fade, but instead they roared, cheered and many chanted their “wish list” song hoping the band would oblige and play it during the encore. Shouts of “Two Step,” “Halloween,” and “Watchtower” rang out over the deafening cheers of the crowd. It is this intense level of excitement and anticipation that proves why Dave Matthews Band is a summer ritual for so many fans.
The band took a short break and ended the evening with a two song encore that included “The Song That Jane Likes” and fan favorite “Tripping Billies.” Carter Beauford tossed out buckets of drum sticks as fans roared and begged for more.
Warehouse, When the World Ends, Crash Into Me, Sugar Will, Don’t Drink the Water, Stay or Leave, #41, Samurai Cop, Grey Street, Satellite, Break Free, Lie in Our Graves, Shake Me Like a Monkey, Typical Situation, What Would You Say (with Sam Kininger), Jimi Thing (with Sam Kininger), Sexy M.F. (Prince cover) (with Sam Kininger)
The Song that Jane Likes, Tripping Billies