by Jeff Hahne
Since the concert ended on Wednesday night, I've spent the last 36 hours pondering the music of the Dave Matthews Band. It's quite clear from what I've read online before and after his concert that people either love him or hate him. There's really no middle ground.
So, I started to wonder - why do so many people hate Dave Matthews and his music?
Is it because Dave Matthews Band has sold tens of millions of albums? This led me to ponder the "he's a sell-out" argument. So, I did a little research:
* He has 14 nominations, but only one Grammy win.
* He's never won an MTV Video Music Award.
* He's never won an American Music Award.
* The last six of his eight studio albums have gone to No. 1 on the U.S. charts, but he's never had a No. 1 song.
* I can't find any examples where his music has been used in a television commercial.
All of that doesn't quite add up to the "sell out" definition.
So, what is it?
Aside from the one time his bus dumped waste on to a tour in Chicago, I never read bad press about him in the mainstream media or tabloids or see random paparazzi photos of him doing something shady. He rarely gives interviews - but is that a positive or a negative?
The "I Hate Dave Matthews" Facebook page only has 105 fans.
Looking at the positives, I can appreciate the fact he walks out on stage and personally introduces the opening band at every tour stop.
At the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre show in Charlotte on Wednesday night, the concert was delayed one hour because of lightning. Instead of playing a short set and ending at 11 p.m. as the curfew dictates, his band continued through for a couple more songs and an encore, leading to at least a $1,000 fine. (Though rumors continue that the fine is $1,000 per minute, that is not specifically stated in the city noise ordinance.)
The band had an XM Radio channel for a brief period. The only other bands to be featured - Led Zeppelin, Metallica, The Who, Coldplay and AC/DC. Permanent channels exist for the Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis and Pearl Jam.
I also can't think of many other bands that have been around for more than 20 years that sell out large amphitheatres in the same markets year after year. Phish does. Country acts like Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. Jimmy Buffett. Bands like 311 and Motley Crue have been touring a lot, but don't draw consistent crowds each year.
Many people say it's "bro" music, or "frat rock." At this week's concert, I didn't see any popped collars, Greek letters on t-shirts or, in fact, many people under age 25. It appeared like most people were in their 30s and dressed like the average person walking down the street.
Some people point to the band's lyrics, but even some of Dave's fans talk about his worst lyrics. And what band hasn't written some questionably bad lyrics? "Ob La Di, Ob La Da," anyone?
Maybe it's the music? I'd say everyone in the band is proficient and talented. Ever tried to play one of Dave's songs on guitar? You better have nimble fingers. Tim Reynolds has made plenty of "Top 100 guitarists" lists. Jeff Coffin is simply a wizard on saxophone. Carter Beauford is an incredible drummer, which, fascinatingly, even DMB's biggest detractors agree with. ("Carter is an amazing drummer, but the rest of the band sucks" is a common remark.)
There's the "all the songs sound the same" argument, but you can say that for virtually any band you aren't a fan of, can't you? Much like the Grateful Dead and Phish, Dave Matthews Band has released far more live recordings and are known for concerts, tape trading and the on-stage dynamics of their songs more than just the studio versions.
American Idol, Philip Phillips, sounds and acts just like him, and someone had to vote for him... though maybe that's more of a reason to dislike the lack of originality in Phillips?
I've also seen an argument of "I don't like him because of the people who like him," which is one of the worst reasons I've heard for any band.
So, what is it? If you can quickly say, "I don't like Dave Matthews," is it anything more than simply not liking his voice or the music? Perhaps he's just the Anne Hathaway of music, or as my co-worker said, "Some people just suck."