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Music / Dave Matthews Band

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The Dave Matthews Band is a rock/jazz/folk/pop/jam band that was formed in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1991. In their twenty-plus years as a band, they've become one of the world's top-earning live acts, as well as achieving a great degree of radio success. The band currently consists of:

  • Dave Matthews: Lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards (1991-present)
  • Carter Beauford: Drums, percussion, backing vocals (1991-present)
  • Stefan Lessard: Bass guitar (1991-present)
  • Rashawn Ross: Trumpet, backing vocals (2005-present)
  • Jeff Coffin: Saxophone, clarinet, flute (2008-present)
  • Tim Reynolds: Guitar (2008-present; frequent DMB guest performer from the band's inception to 2008)
  • Arthur "Buddy" Strong: Piano, organ, keyboards (2018-present)

Former and touring members include:

  • Leroi Moore: Saxophone, flute, pennywhistle (1991-2008; deceased)
  • Peter Griesar: Piano, keyboards (1991-1993)
  • Butch Taylor: Piano, keyboards (1998-2008)
  • Boyd Tinsley: Violin, viola, mandolin, backing vocals (1993-2018)

So far, the band has released nine studio albums:

  • Under the Table and Dreaming (1994)
  • Crash (1996)
  • Before These Crowded Streets (1998)
  • Everyday (2001)
  • Busted Stuff (2002)note 
  • Stand Up (2005)
  • Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (2009)
  • Away From the World (2012)
  • Come Tomorrow (2018)
  • Walk Around the Moon (2023)

Tropes that apply to the Dave Matthews Band include:

  • Album Title Drop:
    • "Everyday", "Busted Stuff" and "Come Tomorrow" are obviously the title tracks of their respective albums, and "Stand Up (For It)" and "Crash into Me" are just extended titles of their respective album's titles.
    • Under the Table and Dreaming gets its title from "Ants Marching".
    • Before These Crowded Streets gets its title from "The Dreaming Tree".
    • Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King gets its title from "Why I Am", though technically the two terms are mentioned separately in the song's lyrics. "GrooGrux King" was a nickname for the late Leroi Moore, who the song and album are a tribute to.
    • Away From the World has its title dropped in "The Riff".
  • Apocalypse How: "Two Step", "Pig", "Mother Father", "Dive In", and obviously "When the World Ends" all make reference to some form of environmental disaster wiping out most or all of the population.
  • Author Appeal: Dave has a thing for monkeys. See "What Would You Say", "Proudest Monkey", "Monkey Man", "Big Eyed Fish", "Shake Me Like a Monkey", and "Why I Am".
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: "Drive In Drive Out". At least in the studio version. Interpretations of various live versions are anyone's guess.
  • Careful with That Axe: The growling voice of "Scary Dave" seems to come out of nowhere on some albums. "Halloween", "The Last Stop", "Rhyme & Reason" and "Time Bomb" are good examples.
    • "Don't Drink The Water" combines this with scatting to create a truly disturbing example.
  • Changed for the Video: The video version of "What Would You Say?" has two additional repetitions of the pre-sax solo titular refrain, with the sax solo itself undergoing a special extension.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Dave, whenever he talks to the crowd at live shows. Though Word of God has it that he does this on purpose to overcome stage fright.
  • Dedication: Under the Table and Dreaming was dedicated to Anne, Dave's older sister who was murdered by her husband before the album was released. The inner sleeve includes a picture of Dave with one of her children.
  • Denser and Wackier: Before These Crowded Streets.
    • As a whole, their 90s output seems to favor longer and more complex song structures than their later material (which is still reasonably complex compared to a lot of popular music). The trope name is slightly misleading since lyrically they downplayed some of their more humorous lyrics in favour of darker, more serious ones.
  • Downer Ending: "Big Eyed Fish" tells the story of a fish, a monkey, and a man who all meet their demise after deciding to leave their respective comfort zones. The moral of the story seems to be that the grass isn't greener on the other side.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: All over the place in their live shows. "Warehouse", "Two Step" and "Bartender" are good examples of this, even in their studio versions.
  • Epic Rocking: They're a jam band. It comes with the territory.
    • On Under the Table and Dreaming, half the songs are this: "Warehouse" is seven minutes long, while "Typical Situation", "Dancing Nancies", and "Jimi Thing" are all around six minutes, and two others ("Rhyme and Reason" and "Lover Lay Down") are still over five minutes long.
    • All but three of the twelve tracks on Crash are this. It ends with the nine-minute jam "Proudest Monkey", while "Two Step", "#41", and "Say Goodbye" are all over six minutes long, and "Cry Freedom" and "Drive-In, Drive-Out" are almost six minutes long. On top of that, there is also "Crash Into Me" (5:16), "Tripping Billies" (5:00), and "Lie in Our Graves" (5:47).
    • If you don't count the intro track "Pantala Naga Pampa" and the brief instrumental segues, every single song on Before These Crowded Streets aims for epic proportions; and only three other tracks ("Stay (Wasting Time)", "Halloween", and "Spoon") are under the 5:50 mark; many reach up to near or over seven minutes long, and the record culminates in "Crush" and "The Dreaming Tree", which are both over eight minutes long.
    • The unreleased Lillywhite Sessions had "Grey Street" (5:53), "Raven" (6:23), "Monkey Man" (7:15) and "Bartender" (10:09), as well as nearly half a dozen more that were over five minutes.
    • Everyday is their only album so far to subvert this. Every song is under 4:50.
    • Busted Stuff revived most of the discarded songs from The Lillywhite Sessions, giving us an eight-and-a-half minute studio version of "Bartender" and the brand-new six-minute epic "You Never Know". On top of this are "Big-Eyed Fish", "Raven", and "Grey Street", which are all over five minutes.
    • Stand Up and Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King come close to being subversions as well, with only one semi-epics on the former ("Louisiana Bayou") and two ("Lying in the Hands of God" and "Squirm") on the latter.
    • Away From the World is their first album since "Busted Stuff" to really do this; it ends with "Drunken Solider", which is their longest studio-recorded track at nearly 10 minutes, and also contains "Snow Outside", which is over 6 minutes long, as well as two songs that are over five minutes long.
    • Live versions of some of their songs have been known to stretch out to twenty or even thirty minutes.
  • Erudite Stoner: Dave Matthews is probably one of the most well-known examples of this in real life. it crops up in his lyrics from time to time.
  • Evolving Music: Inevitable when the band road-tests songs before their official album versions are released, and when they jam on them in concert to the point where specific versions of particular songs are noted by fans recapping their setlists.
    • "Drive In Drive Out" is notable for its constantly changing lyrics.
    • "#36" was floating around for several years, even appearing on a few live albums, before it eventually morphed into the title track for Everyday. The band play both songs as a medley live, and it's a tradition for the crowd to sing "#36"'s original chorus of "Hani, Hani, come and dance with me".
  • Fading into the Next Song: "#41" into "Say Goodbye" on Crash; "Halloween" into "The Stone" on Before These Crowded Streets; "Big Eyed Fish" into "Bartender" on Busted Stuff; "Louisiana Bayou" into "Hello Again" on Stand Up; "Alligator Pie" into "Seven" on Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King.
    • And that's not even getting into the multitude of segues they've done in concert to bridge various songs together, some of which are well-known enough to have their own names (e.g. "Anyone Seen the Bridge").
  • Friends with Benefits: "Say Goodbye" is all about a one-night stand with a friend who Dave knows is seeing another man.
  • Genre Mashup: Sort of comes with the territory when your band prominently features a saxophonist and violinist. They're one of the most commercially successful examples. Their unique sound combines rock, jazz, funk, folk, soul, and other genres; Before These Crowded Streets added progressive rock to the mix while Stand Up leaned more in a pop direction.
  • Heavy Meta: "Alligator Pie" is about Dave's twin daughters wanting to be mentioned in one of his songs.
    • "The Song That Jane Likes" refers to the fact that Dave's sister Jane liked the song.
  • The Hedonist: A frequent theme in Dave's lyrics. "Tripping Billies" has the line "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" as its chorus.
    • "Too Much" could be about the dark side of this behavior.
  • Hidden Track:
    • Before These Crowded Streets has several unlisted instrumental segues between its songs, including a reprise of "The Last Stop" hidden at the end of the album.
    • Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King has a brief sax solo hidden after the end of "You and Me". It was one of the last things Leroi Moore recorded before his death.
    • "#34" on Under the Table and Dreaming is sort of a subversion in that the track is listed, but it's actually track 34 instead of track 12 on some editions, with 22 unlisted tracks of silence separating it from the 11th track, "Pay For What You Get".
    • The early live-and-studio record Remember Two Things contains an odd one. It starts with an outtake snippet of "Seek Up," then shifts into audio of a thunderstorm and chirping crickets.
  • Insult Backfire: One of the band members' girlfriends once told Dave she thought they sounded "like a bunch of hillbillies tripping on acid". They thought this was hilarious, so they wrote the song "Tripping Billies".
    • Word of God says that at least the verses of "Tripping Billies" are about the first time Dave did acid in South Africa with his ex-girlfriend (the same ex he refers to in "I'll Back You Up", "Halloween" and "Grey Street").
  • Intercourse with You: A great majority of DMB songs are either blatantly about this, or can be interpreted this way due to innuendo. This should be no big surprise coming from a songwriter who once quipped, "Even when it's not about sex, it's about sex."
  • Just a Kid: Bass player Stefan Lessard had problems with this due to joining the band at age 16. He had to sneak in the back of some of the 21-and-over venues where the band had gigs in the early days.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Implied by the abrupt ending of "When the World Ends".
  • Lighter and Softer: Arguably, Everyday. The record was relatively simple and upbeat compared to the Before These Crowded Streets and the discarded Lillywhite Sessions that later became Busted Stuff; Busted Stuff itself is much lighter than the Lillywhite record.
    • The Lillywhite Sessions might actually be a rare case of "Lighter and Edgier". The music is much more sparse than any other DMB record (there are no guest musicians), and the subject matter is moodier as a whole than most of their albums. This isn't surprising since the sessions the material was culled from represented something of a Creator Breakdown for Dave.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Don't let the music fool you, "What Would You Say" and "Ants Marching" aren't happy songs.
    Smile and watch the icicles melt away and see the water rising...
    Summers here to stay, and those sweet summer girls will dance forever
    Go down to the shore, kick off your shoes, dive in the empty ocean.
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: "Does his teeth" in "Ants Marching", rather than "brushes his teeth", since a two-syllable word would mess up the meter of the lyrics.
  • Motor Mouth: The bridge of "Ants Marching", which frequently becomes an Audience Participation Song despite this. Also the verses of "Dreams of Our Fathers" and "Shake Me Like a Monkey".
  • Mystery Cult: "Squirm" evokes the atmosphere of one of these in an eerie way that blends imagery evoking both a firey Southern Gothic tent revival and a primal ritual, with a carnal sort of Love Is Like Religion vibe tying the whole thing together.
  • New Sound Album: Everyday, which was not received too kindly among fans, and Stand Up, which most fans would like to pretend never existed.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "The Song that Jane Likes", "The Christmas Song", "Rhyme & Reason", "Two Step", "Pantala Naga Pampa", "JTR", "Raven" (in its final version on ''Busted Stuff'), "Stolen Away on 55th and 3rd", "Seven", and any of their numbered songs ("#36", "#41", etc.)
  • One-Woman Wail: Dave does the male version of this a lot in some of his spookier songs. "The Last Stop" is a particularly unsettling example.
    • Alanis Morissette guests on "Don't Drink the Water" and provides one for backing vocals.
  • Out of Focus: Boyd may as well have been on vacation when Everyday and Big Whiskey were being recorded.
    • The entire band except Dave is practically this on Stand Up, part of the reason it has gained so much hatedom.
  • Precision F-Strike: Matthews' lyrics generally keep the swears on the mild side, but the F-bomb makes an appearance in "Halloween", "If I Had It All", and "Time Bomb".
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Tim Reynolds, Jeff Coffin, and Rashawn Ross are all credited as full-time band members on Away From the World.
  • Record Producer: The band's first three albums and the abandoned Lillywhite Sessions that were revived for Busted Stuff were produced, unsurprisingly, by Steve Lillywhite. They worked with other people for a while after the Lillywhite Sessions didn't work out - the pop leanings and polish Glen Ballard brought to Everyday and Mark Batson added to Stand Up did not resonate well with their fans or critics, but Stephen Harris' work on Busted Stuff and Rob Cavallo's production of Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King were well-received - and finally reunited with him for Away from the World. Lillywhite has been credited as a Helping Hand Producer by certain reviews, as he was actually OK with some of the endless jamming that's the band's signature, whereas others generally keep the songs under five minutes.
    • Turned up to eleven on Come Tomorrow, which features five producers (Batson, Cavallo, John Alagia, Rob Evans, and Doug McKean) spread out over 14 tracks, half of which are collaborative production efforts.
  • Religion Rant Song: "The Last Stop", "Minarets," and possibly "Time Bomb".
    • Averted on several songs that invoke some form of either God-Is-Love Songs or Jesus Was Way Cool, most notably "Bartender" and "The Christmas Song". Let's just say that Dave's feelings on religion are rather mixed.
    • "Gaucho" from Away From The World is a Type 2, decrying the perceived expectation of something from above saving us from ourselves and begging that we do it instead.
    We gotta do much more than believe
    If we really wanna change things
  • Scatting: Dave does this a lot. Especially noticeable on "Alligator Pie" and "Louisiana Bayou".
  • Self-Deprecation: Listen to Dave talk about himself for any length of time and it'll become clear that he doesn't take himself too seriously.
  • Sexophone: Played straight and averted, depending on the song.
  • Sixth Ranger: Tim Reynolds. Although he's been involved with DMB more or less since it started, he never considered himself an official member of the band. His guitar playing was heard on most of their albums, and he's become an integral part of their live shows to the point where Dave and Tim will often tour together as an acoustic duo. In 2008, Reynolds was promoted to a full, official band member and remained one ever since.
    • Also keyboard player Butch Taylor.
    • Lillywhite was practically this during 1993-2000.
    • Rashawn Ross will sometimes tongue-in-cheek invoke this by wearing a baseball cap with the Roman numeral for 6 on stage.
  • The Something Song: "The Christmas Song" and "The Song that Jane Likes".
  • Special Guest: John Popper performs the harmonica solo on "What Would You Say".
    • The Kronos Quartet makes guest appearances on "Halloween" and "The Stone".
    • Alanis Morissette performs backing vocals on "Don't Drink the Water" and "Spoon".
    • Béla Fleck plays banjo on "The Last Stop", "Don't Drink the Water" and "Spoon".
    • Carlos Santana plays electric guitar on "Mother Father".
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Boyd Tinsley sings lead on "True Reflection" and the spoken-word section of "I Did It". Carter Beauford sings the main hook on "Old Dirt Hill (Bring That Beat Back)".
    • Tim Reynolds gets to play a few solo instrumental tracks in the live acoustic shows that he and Dave do together. He got a Grammy nomination for one of these.
  • Stop and Go: "Drive In Drive Out" seems to end about ten times before it's actually over.
    • The intro to "Satellite" is arguably a softer version of this.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Dave uses this to add a little extra tragedy to his solo song "Gravedigger":
    Little Mikey Carson, 'sixty-seven to 'seventy-five
    He rode his bike like the devil until the day he died
    When he grows up he wants to be
    Mr. Vertigo on the flying trapeze
    Oh, nineteen forty to nineteen ninety... TWO!
  • Token Minority: A notable aversion. Up until the death of Leroi Moore, the band was split 60/40 between black and white members. With Jeff Coffin taking over on sax, it's 40/60—even with the recent firing of Boyd Tinsley and the addition of Buddy Strong.
  • Uncommon Time: All over the place, sometimes with numerous time signature changes in the middle of a song ("Rapunzel", "You Never Know", and "Seven" are excellent examples of this).
    • "Crash into Me" is an interesting subversion - its time signature sounds confusing due to where it's accented by both Dave and Carter, but it's actually in 4/4.
  • The Unintelligible: "Halloween" quickly devolves into this, as do a lot of live versions of songs before Matthews had the lyrics completely worked out.
  • Urine Trouble: Probably best not to mention their name in Chicago. (In the band's defense, the driver claimed responsibility for the 'tour bus incident.')
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Dave was born in South Africa, spent his childhood in New York, moved back to South Africa for his teen years, and then moved to Virginia after graduating from high school to avoid being conscripted into the South African army. His accent is stuck somewhere between South African, New England, and Mid-Atlantic. His singing voice complicates things further, as somewhere along the line he's picked up some southern touches of the sort that make one think of bayous.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: An awful lot. You generally get the basic idea of what Dave is rambling about, but his lyrics can seem like non-sequiturs from one line to the next. This naturally leads to a lot of Wild Mass Guessing concerning the meaning of certain songs.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Although Grey Street is an all around depressing song, lyrics such as these come up near the end. Especially, ironically, in the Lillywhite Sessions. Of course, the woman the song is about probably isn't listening...