The Gorge Amphitheater
September 4, 2009
Some people just don’t get Dave Matthews Band. Other people LOVE Dave Matthews Band and follow them around the country at the expense of their families, jobs, and wallets. I definitely “get” Dave Matthews and while I’ve seen them play at various festivals around the country, I’ve never traveled specifically to see this band. . . until Friday.
One of the things I appreciate about live music is the venues themselves. There are venues I just won’t go to (usually due to unacceptable sound quality) and some venues where I’ll go see anybody play, because the venue itself provides a positive experience. I’ve been wanting to experience The Gorge for years. And if I’m going to travel to another state to see a show, then I’m going to select the pinnacle annual experience at that venue. Dave Matthews Band plays The Gorge during Labor Day weekend practically every year. They play all 3 nights (although we only attended one) and people travel from around the country to be there.
On Friday morning I woke up at 4:30am, met my friend at the airport and boarded the first of 2 planes to Seattle. We arrived in Seattle at 11:00am to find the rental car lines, restaurants, and hotels PACKED with people who were there to see Dave Matthews.
After spending the day in Seattle, we began the 2 and a half hour journey out to The Gorge, thus beginning the experience. The drive from Seattle to The Gorge is beautiful, crossing over bodies of water, vast views of mountains and trees, and even the occasional waterfall. We arrived at The Gorge around 8pm, just before the band was set to take the stage. The venue is beautiful and literally sits right off the Gorge. All the seats (including general admission lawn) provide a good view and the sound is great as well. The fans provide the party in the parking lots and campgrounds before and the after show.
One thing that should be said about Dave Matthews fans is that they are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Unlike some audiences that get very territorial over their space, seats, or view, Dave Matthews fans just want to have a good time – and they want you to have a good time too. So don’t be surprised if a fan offers to buy you a drink or lets you borrow their friend’s ticket to sneak down to a better seat. If you want to have fun, these are your people.
I’m not going to say much about the show itself because it really is more of an experience than a concert. If you’ve seen Dave Matthews Band, you’ve seen Dave Matthews Band. And chances are you’ll choose to see them again. They played several crowd favorites and treated us to a guest appearance by Danny Barnes on banjo. Dave blew the crowd away with his scatting and dancing. And the crowd did their part – singing along, dancing, drinking and smoking.
The Gorge is definitely a venue worth traveling to. And if you want to have a good time, Dave Matthews Band (and their fans) are worth getting to know. Oh – speaking of getting to know the band — I had a great conversation with Dave at Rothbury 2 years ago. We were backstage, talking about a business opportunity, when Dave said something that was questionably appropriate and definitely hysterical. From that point forward the two of us began playing with language and making each other laugh. The business got accomplished as well, but one thing Dave reminds people to do is to maintain your childlike sense of wonder and life – play, laugh, and dance like it’s all there is to do.
Videos from Friday night’s show at The Gorge:
“Cornbread” scat, dance, jam:
“Die Trying” jam and dance:
“Jimi Thing” jam and scat: