I’ve been going to Dave Mathews Band shows for fourteen years, now. After this summer ends, I will have seen DMB play live in over thirty venues (in fifteen states). I have been in the pit, I have been in the balcony, I have been on the lawn, and I have been in the parking lot. I went to my first show when I was in ninth grade—and I’m now a grown man with a wife, gray hair, and a bread-maker (the official appliance of old men), and I still see him every year.
What does this mean? It means I have single-handedly funded a full year of college tuition for Dave Matthews’s children.
But it also means I have studied the Dave Matthews Band crowd. The crowd at a DMB show is a living thing. It moves. It reacts to songs in certain ways. It shrinks and grows depending on different events, like a single unit– but, it is made up of different types of people who arrange in different ways and interact with the music differently.
Pre-Show Activities: Predicting the setlist; bragging about the number of shows you’ve seen; strategizing how to catch one of Carter’s drumsticks.
When to use the bathroom: You hold it, damnit. The show is only two-and-a-half hours long.
Drink of choice: None (see above)
Arrival time: “The doors open at 6:00… so, I’d like to get to the venue… on Monday.”
Official dance move: Head bobbing.
Singing along: Every word of every song… plus maybe you’ll sing the violin parts… why not.
What if it rains: Who cares?
The Inside Seaters
Pre-Show Activities: Discussing where the best parking was; texting people about how expensive the chicken fingers are at the venue.
When to use the bathroom: “If I go during the popular songs, there won’t be a line! I’ve figured everything out!! I’m a concert genius!!!”
Drink of choice: White wine and craft beers
Arrival time: “I don’t really care if we miss the opener… you wanna get dinner first?”
Official dance move: Head bobbing.
Singing along: You’ll sing the choruses confidently… everything else is about 50/50… better off just mouthing the words.
What if it rains: Who cares.
The Lawn Kids
Pre-Show Activities: Drinking; drinking; looking at your cell phone; looking into the crowd and shouting “Skylar, we’re over here!!!!”; drinking; high-fiving.
When to use the bathroom: “I’ve gotta go find Skylar—and I’m gonna go to the bathroom, too—and get a beer.”
Drink of choice: Beer (cheap) and vodka in water bottles (cheap)
Arrival time: Arrives at the parking lot two hours early. Arrives at the concert just after the third song.
Official dance move: Head bobbing (and general wobbling).
Singing along: Loudly and confidently most of the show… usually with the wrong words… often words to other songs from other bands. Singing is interrupted frequently with shouts of “Where did Skylar go?!”
What if it rains: “Can we go, I’m cold… plus, I think Skylar is trying to walk home.”
The Lawn-Chair Crew
Pre-Show Activities: Eating picnic food; playing cards; talking about the last concert you went to (usually Journey or Foreigner).
When to use the bathroom: Whenever, man.
Drink of choice: Canned beer (moderately cheap) and bottled water
Arrival time: You arrive early to set up the lawn-chair… then you wander around for an hour.
Official dance move: Head bobbing (DMB fans aren’t great dancers—this is about all we do).
Singing along: Nope—but they’ll shout “Y’alright!!!” after guitar solos.
What if it rains: “Little rain never hurt no body… it rained when I saw Journey here in ’88, too.”