I began playing Rock Band from the beginning. I can remember hoping that the Dave Matthews Band would be on the game when the first set list was announced. Repeat this story for the release of Rock Band 2 and Rock Band 3. Then imagine my heartache when another music rhythm game (which shall remain nameless) announced that they had exclusively gotten the Dave Matthews Band on their game. I was crushed; however my hopes were revived with the announcement of the Rock Band Dashboard Facebook App (now known as Rock Band World). The app allows user to create an artist wish list which is taken into consideration when creating new downloadable content for the game. For me it was a no brainer who I was going to choose. September 11, 2012 brought the release of the band’s 8th studio album Away From the World and my hopes once again arose for DLC to follow. My anguish was beginning to resurface after two months since the album release and no DLC. All of the heartache I felt has been forgotten and the anguish has subsided with the announcement and now release of the Dave Matthews Band becoming part of the Rock Band song library. I guess the best place to start about my love of the Dave Matthews Band is from the beginning.
The very first CD I ever owned was the Dave Matthews Band’s Under the Table and Dreaming back in 1994. I was just 12-years-old and to me this was a huge deal. This also marked the first piece of music that I had purchased with my own money from allowances and completing chores. The fact that I earned it made it even better. Now I must be completely honest with you, the main reason I purchased the album was because I couldn’t quite understand the lyrics. Back in those days you didn’t have this great invention called the internet, so to learn what Dave Matthews was saying I did things the old-fashioned way - reading the lyrics in the CD insert. I studied every word of the song “Ants Marching” and felt like I had unlocked some sort of secret in finally knowing the words to the song. Little did I know that 18 years later the Dave Matthews Band would become a part of me.
The more I listened to Under the Table and Dreaming the more I became intrigued. Up to this point I hadn’t heard anything like this in music. Dave’s vocal style was just unique and having violin in rock music seemed interesting. I can remember putting headphones on as I wrestled myself to sleep and getting lost in the wave of sound that was assaulting my mind. Subconsciously, I believe this is the first time I noticed how dense and layered music can be and sound. I listened to that album beginning to end constantly, but I wouldn’t say that I was a rabid fan yet. I enjoyed the music but it wasn’t more than that. The change came when their second studio album, Crash, was released.
My parents had divorced in 1990 and at that time I had to pack up, leave my friends behind and move to a different state. By 1996 I was starting to really have difficulty with the situation surrounding my parents’ divorce and then throw coming of age into that mix as well. I don’t know if I can accurately write what it feels like to be a child of divorce; it almost seems like one of those situations that you would have to live to understand. I can just remember feeling lost and lonely quite often. My time would often be spent wondering about what ifs and what could have been. Listening to that second DMB (as I will now refer to them) album changed my life for the first time. The music spoke to me in a way that nothing ever had before. Every time I would begin to feel sadness I would just play that album and everything seemed to be okay. The emotions I needed to feel were represented in the music and gave me my outlet for expression. Sometimes just closing my bedroom door, putting the album on, blasting the volume and singing along at the top of my lungs felt like such a release. The ground work was now laid for fandom.
My very first rock concert came in 1998 and it was a DMB show. I remember the road trip to the show and how I was barely able to contain my excitement. The first show was great and as much as I loved what the band did in studio, they were even better live. The band played together extremely well. The concert seemed to go on forever, but forever was fine with me. I could feel my heartbeat in my throat and I don’t think I stopped smiling for the entire three hours that the concert lasted. I can remember thinking that I was definitely going to do that again and go to another show. This December will mark my 12th DMB concert. Much like a fine wine I can say that the DMB concerts get better with age.
Throughout the 2000s grown-up life began to happen. I got a job, got a car, moved out of my mom’s house, starting doing adult stuff. No matter what however, DMB was always there. The band released three more albums during this time and had started to be recognized as one of the most popular touring acts in America. It also didn’t hurt that by this time they had four consecutive Billboard #1 debuts (a feat that now has jumped to six). I was preordering every album, live release, and started to assemble a collection of live taped shows. DMB is one of the few acts that allow their fans to openly record their live shows and fans can trade them freely amongst themselves. My music collection was starting to largely consist of DMB (at the time of this writing 60GB of a 160GB iPod is devoted to DMB’s music) as well as my wardrobe of DMB t-shirts, posters, oh heck…anything DMB! I wear my fandom with pride. To this day I have friends in high-school, work, or from wherever tell me that when they hear a DMB song they immediately think of me. I still have my DMB bumper sticker on my car and my current set of work keys are attached to a DMB key ring. I am a DMB fan and proud of it!
The next moment I can remember DMB really feeling like a part of my life came in 2008. The band was doing what they normally did every summer; hit the road for yet another tour. I was enjoying a nice August day off from work and had just awoken when I received a text message from a good friend. It simply asked me if I had heard about what happened to one of the members of the band. I rushed to my computer only to find that founding member and saxophonist LeRoi Moore had tragically passed away. He died from injuries he had sustained during an ATV accident earlier in the summer. I remember feeling as if a member of my family had died and knew that things had changed. I began to wonder what the other members of the band were feeling and if they would be able to go on in their brother’s absence. The band played on and I believe became stronger from that point on.
As sad the end of 2008 seemed, 2009 started for me with much happiness. I began dating my wife in January of that year. As we dated she quickly realized my love for DMB. On September 24, 2011 we were married and yes I had a DMB song played at the wedding. My wife has since been to three concerts with me (her fourth will also be in December). Just like DMB’s music has helped me through my tough times, it has also given me memories of my wife. There are certain DMB songs that when I hear them I immediately think of her. Yet another way that DMB has slipped into my life.
I will always be thankful for the times in my life that DMB has brought me comfort and happiness. I wish I could express my gratitude to the band for all the years that their hard work and dedication have meant in my life (I guess in some ways this written piece has). What I can do in this however is send a huge thank you to Harmonix for finally bringing the music I love to the game that I love to play. Is it Tuesday, November 6th yet? Thank you, thank you, thank you! To all my fellow DMB fans out there I can only hope you are excited for this DLC as I am. Celebrate we will!