Dave Matthews Band Caravan @ Atlantic City, NJ June 24, 25 & 26
Words: Carla Danca
Photos: Jeremy Gordon
When a band decides that they aren’t hitting the road for the summer, fans often start to worry, but in the case of Dave Mathews Band, a summer free from touring left them open to much bigger and better things. DMB is no stranger to the summer festival circuit having appeared in festivals from H.O.R.D.E to Bonnaroo over the course of their 20 year career, but their own events so far have been smaller – a two-day show here or there. This year they went all in, planning four separate Caravan events including three days at the never before used as a concert venue Bader Field in Atlantic City.
[All photos by Jeremy Gordon]
While DMB could have gotten away with being the only band on the lineup, they instead pulled from an eclectic mix of artists that combined old friends and up and comers. The days were jammed packed with music, often causing hard decisions when bands overlapped. Though many of the artists held obvious appeal for DMB fans, acts such as Big Gigantic and Bassnectar provided danceable grooves, while Punch Brothers and Thievery Corporation exposed fans to a much more worldly sound.
READ ON for more from DMB Caravan – Atlantic City…
One of the best attended side stage sets of the weekend seemed to be the Grace Potter and the Nocturnals set which had fans anxiously awaiting the golden haired beauty to jump on stage. But it was probably the spectacle that accompanies a Flaming Lips show that got the most talk and attention. It might be old news to some but seeing Wayne Coyne jump into the crowd in that giant hamster ball is something that you can’t help but tell friends about long after the fact. On a similar note, Michael Franti wasn’t shy about getting down and dirty with the crowd, bringing people up onto the stay to “play” guitar alongside him as well and running through the crowd and dancing with them.
With so many other options during the day, it was a bit of a surprise to see so many fans waiting patiently for DMB on the main stage throughout the festival. Yet the Dave Matthews Band was happy to give the loyal fans exactly what they hoped for playing 66 different songs over the course of the weekend – including an acoustic set by Dave & Tim – that crossed their catalog from back to front. They brought out rarely heard songs like Captain from 2004 as well as new covers including Morphine’s Buena and Led Zeppelin’s Good Times, Bad Times and even a little tease of If I Only Had A Brain, perhaps as a little ode to the hay covered field attempting to curtail the dirty black sand blowing all over the venue.
The three long DMB sets (about 2.5 hours each with no set break) also included many special guests, including Warren Haynes, Leon Mobley and Vusi Mahlasela which gave fans a chance to hear some of their old favorites with new twist. While each evening was a delight, Sunday seemed to stand out among fans (with many hoping for an official release in the near future) for the stellar Kill the King and the Aerosmith favorite, Sweet Emotion.
This venue got a lot of attention from phans after rumors circulated about the location of this year’s summer Phish festival. Is this a potential festival site for the future? Many locals seem to hope so after the success of DMB Caravan. Want to know more about the site? Here are some of the things we saw….
- Free water refilling stations…but long lines during the day kept many buying at vendors anyway
- Tons of non-music related activities from the Ferris Wheel to the Log Roll and even a Test Ride Terrain Park!
- More than just your standard festival food – Iron Chef Jose Garces set up an outpost of his Village Whiskey http://villagewhiskey.com/ restaurant offering what might be the most delicious spin on disco fries ever – short rib fries as well as wine and beer tasting (even with the annoying ticket system for beer and wine)
- A strict no chair policy in front of soundboard was enforced and helped save space for those looking to dance or get a closer look during the DMB shows each night
- Huge space reserved for VIP, both in the fairgrounds as well as in front of the stage making it tempting to upgrade as well as lots of travel packages for those who prefer a quiet night to the hustle of AC
- Parking near the venue was almost impossible with confusing street parking signs, an ever present tow truck looming in plain sight and steep prices in impromptu lots, but there were bike racks available as a great option for anyone staying nearby