Ever since I was a young(er) lady, one thing I could always rely on was that Dave Matthews and his band would come through my neck of the woods at least once sometime during the summer. This year they came to kick off not only the summer, but Memorial Day weekend with a two-evening run on New England’s Rising Star. AKA: Hartford, CT.

DMB’s relationship with the city spans back over the better part of the last two decades. Their first CT appearance took place at Trinity College in 93. They took stage in New Haven at Toad’s Place in 94 and returned back to Trinity in 95. In 96 they found their “home” at The Meadows Music Theater. And every year since, with the exception of 2011, they have returned. The venue these days is now known as the Comcast Theatre, but we old folk will always remember it as “The Meadows.”

For those from CT, here are some shameless shout-outs: The old Jai Alai parking lot, the McDonald’s on Market Street, tailgating from the end of the school day through the entire weekend and who could forget, the Hartford PD in full riot gear on horseback spraying tear gas through the parking lots. Over the years the band and their fans have seen it all.

This evening, Mariachi El Bronx was there in support of DMB. They are an alter ego (so to speak) of “The Bronx”; an LA hardcore punk band that thought up the idea to go ahead and do something completely radical: perform as a mariachi band.

It was hard to place why a mariachi band was opening for DMB, but Dave himself took stage a little after 8pm to introduce them. He was thrilled to be sharing a stage with them this evening and had wished that they could continue on tour together. On his recommendation, I took it in. I grew up in a household where “Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass” spun quite often, so my soul fell right into this performance. If you happen to catch these guys, I would bet you wouldn’t hate it.

During the break between acts, I scoped out the newly coined “Scion Festival Stage”; Comcast Theatre’s new(ish) outdoor stage that rests on the right side of the lawn. Capacity for the area is about 6,000 and later this summer the stage will host moe. in support of Gov’t Mule, amongst other acts. Looking forward to seeing the fruits of that side-project/new stage.

The Dave Matthews Band came on around 9:30p and played for just about two and a half hours. While I realize it is not the case, I’d like to believe that the founding members of the band can recall the early days of it all, and for that reason alone led their now band to play to us what we always are looking to hear. And in opening with “The Stone,” I knew we were all in for a good evening. During their set they touched on many moments of my young adult-hood; “Proudest Monkey”, “One Sweet World” the ever-popular love ballad, “Crash into Me.” Oh, sweet memories.

“I am so sorry,” Dave says, “but I just love playing this one!” He led the band slowly into “Jimi Thing” and before the lyrics could even come out of his mouth, the entire crowd starting singing in unison along to the song. The band just rolled with it and enjoyed playing their tune. During the chorus, they obliged and joined in on vocals. Fifteen minutes later, the song was over. DAMN.

I have to admit, I have not stayed in touch with DMB as much as I did growing up. Some of the newer songs are not as uplifting for me as the classics, though were a perfect touch of that mellow moment I often find I need at shows these days.

After a few of said newer songs, he brought it back around to days of the past…

“Hello, how are you doing today
I hope I find you feeling healthy
I’m so glad our paths crossed this time today
On our way into the night.”

After “Granny” he closed the set with “Pantala Naga Pampa > Rapunzel” and I could have been pleased with just that. He came back with a two song encore and closed the show with “Corn Bread.”

Dave has an amazingly eccentric stage presence with his quirky ticks, noises and dance moves. And he always enjoys talking to the fans; asking how we are all feeling, explaining meanings behind songs or keeping us in the loop of why he is playing certain things. Early on during the performance, Dave dedicated a part of the show to Steve Lillywhite…who was there amongst us. Steve produced the band’s first three released albums and also their unreleased and beloved “The Lillywhite Sessions.”

DMB2012 is currently underway and making stops throughout the country from now until September.

Comcast Theatre, Hartford, CT

The Stone
Proudest Monkey >
One Sweet World
Why I Am
Shake Me Like a Monkey
Spaceman (with Stanley Jordan)
Jimi Thing
Crash Into Me
Lying in the Hands of God
Pantala Naga Pampa >

Time Bomb >