Best news ever yesterday-DMB playing four festival type events this summer, more info to come. Whew, the stress just dissolved. I was trying to figure out what to do with myself this summer, no more worries on that. I’m thinking Bonnaroo? Some sort of Gorge event? All this talk of festivals takes me back, back to where it all began…….with the live shows.
The first time I saw DMB was at a festival. A big, scary anti-love festival called Woodstock 99. I had missed the opportunity to attend Woodstock 94, the mud filled event for Gen X. So when 99 came around, I was determined to go. I convinced my then-boyfriend, now-husband to attend, promising it would be greatest time ever. Ever! I also took along my brother, who was 20 at the time and loved music and concerts. This was the official start of our shared obsession of going to DMB shows. As kids my brother and I had gone to a ton of shows, it first started with my parents taking us to Hall and Oates (they have seen them a zillion time). We also started to go to shows with some of our cousins, saw many “classic” 80’s musicians: Richard Marx, the Jets, the MTV tour with Paula Abdul AND Milli Vanilli! Yeah, you know it’s true. So back to Woodstock 99…….
We roll into Rome, NY early, because I always want to be the first person in line, no matter what the event. Everything was good at first. The festival was held on a large defunct military base, there were camping areas with trees, clusters of portable restrooms, two stages and a ton of open space. We camped right next to an Ace hardware tent, which had anything we forgot. This was Thursday. Friday was the official start of the festival. Lots more people showed up. Everytime we left our tent, we would come back and find someone moved it slightly to squish in another tent. By the end, it was tent wall to tent wall. So you literally were separated by two thin tent walls at night, nestled among strange people. Then we realized how much everything cost; a gallon of water was six dollars! There were only two places in the whole event that had free running water and one of them broke, though by brother had his hero moment when he fixed one of them. Did I mention it a hot and humid 90 degrees? I became somewhat comatose with the intense heat and sun. Since we were closer to the smaller stage, I saw more acts there than the main one. Great sets from moe, Chemical Brothers and George Clinton. To me, this was better than many of the angry rock type bands that were on the main stage. Between the heat, high prices, lack of resources, portable bathrooms that were never cleaned and flooded tent sites and then add in some angry rock music, it truly was formula for disaster.
The DMB set was a beautiful and peaceful moment in this jungle. I vaguely remember the set list, really what I remember was that it was positive, upbeat and about the love. A lot of other acts were yelling and screaming about something. I didn’t want to hear bands singing about a sandman entering my dreams or that you have to do “it” for the nookie, whatever the hell that was. DMB was one of few acts I saw on the main stage who had music that was grounding versus enraging. Don’t get me wrong, I love punk and some other types of dark, angry music. Yes, I think Disintigration by The Cure is a true masterpiece. But the positive energy of DMB really stood out for me when they played on Saturday.
It was all downhill from there, you could feel it coming. By Saturday night, I knew it was going to turn ugly We we walking over toward the rave and someone had set fire to the Haagan Daz ice cream cart. Ice cream! People were complaining that the ATM’s were out of money and they didn’t have money to buy any water or food. A good recipe for a looting. There were scary rumors floating around that females were being attacked and raped in the pit close to the main stage. The event got very dark very quick. We became concerned enough that by Sunday afternoon we decided to bail. I missed the crowning event of blazing fire set by the crowd during the Red Hot Chili Peppers set. There was a long line of cars trying to drive away as fast as they could, probably also sensing the impending feeling of doom that had settled into the event.
So in the darkness there was a light called the Dave Matthews Band. I saw them again that summer in Hartford. It was the night of the big riot down there, when they flipped cars and set them on fire. People started to ask me why there were riots wherever I went. That kind of blew my theory that dark angry music=rioting. I guess it was all the pre-millennium angst that caused people to be unhappy. Who wasn’t scared about Y2K? Maybe the world was going to end, or at least the computers might think it would. I don’t know if this is what Prince was visioning when he sang about partying like it was 1999. Partying is not equal to rioting.
So, as we wait to hear what festivals DMB will appear at, I am sending out positive thoughts, hoping that the only fire I see will be the one at my campsite………