Dave Matthews Band at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, 8/23/13

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DAVE MATTHEWS BAND @ DICK'S SPORTING GOODS PARK | 8/23/13 The skies were dark over Commerce City on Friday night as fans tailgated in the parking lots outside of Dick's, cracking beers and playing their favorite Dave Matthews Band tunes. But the threatening clouds didn't dampen the excitement for this show. As the band took the stage, the bowl filled quickly with cheering fans. "That's nice," said Dave Matthews in his easy going drawl, as the act started its set with the rousing, backwater-inspired "Louisiana Bayou," a track off of 2005's Stand Up. With screeching violin from Boyd Tinsley and gravelly vocals from Dave Matthews, the song is decidedly more raw live.

See also: Before I outgrew him, Dave Matthews was a big part of my life -- looking back, I guess he still is

The crowd went wild at the first lilting notes of "One Sweet World," the first track off Live at Luther College , an album recorded with fan-beloved guitar master Tim Reynolds. "Big Eyed Fish" a dark, melancholic ballad from Busted Stuff was received just as warmly, with the exuberant crowd singing along. Matthews always manages to be captivating to his audience, even in a venue this size, which, spatially, makes it hard to feel intimate.

"Granny," a track that was dropped as one of the intended singles from the cult-favorite album Under The Table And Dreaming, but could also be found on several of live albums, made an appearance in the set. Another treasured choice, the tune energized the crowd with pleading vocals from Matthews and sparse percussive bursts from Carter Beauford.

"Belly Belly Nice," the first song of the night from the band's last release Away From The World, was a funk-ridden, saxophone-heavy track that recalls earlier Dave Matthews Band sound, especially with the return to producer Steve Lillywhite, who produced 1998's Before These Crowded Streets. Based on the crowd's reaction, the song was a welcome inclusion in the set.

The band continued with a high-energy rendition of "Why I Am" (with cheers when Dave Matthews referenced the "Groo-Grux King," former saxophonist LeRoi Moore) and a sultry, hard-hitting take on "Rooftop," followed by a beautiful rendering of Crash's "Proudest Monkey," which received an explosive reaction from the crowd. Up next was "Satellite," and as expected, the tune evoked the most raucous response of the evening.

Elsewhere, the outfit broke up the set with a surprising, masterful cover of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult, and that was followed a pair of heartrending tunes from 2002's Busted Stuff, "Digging A Ditch" and "Grey Street." As hard as it was to understand what Dave Matthews was saying to the crowd between songs, when Tim Reynolds was introduced, the crowd gave him a long, hearty applause.

"My momma loves this song," Matthews noted before playing "Mercy," which, with its pleading, we'll-work-it-out sentiment, has properties of John Hiatt's "Have A Little Faith In Me." The steady beat and underlying twang of banjo (originally played by Bela Fleck) on the shadowy "Don't Drink The Water" was followed by the upbeat, catchy love jam "You and Me."

The first few chords of "Warehouse" created an impenetrable wall of noise as fans responded to one of the most revered songs of the group's career, from an even more celebrated album, Under The Table And Dreaming, which showcased the incredible musicianship and diversity of the members and their sound with lively string flourishes and vocals from Matthews. The closing song, "Shake Me Like a Monkey," was a horn-heavy, seductive and effervescent jam that worked the already amped crowd even more of a lather.

For a minute, it seemed like the band might not encore. People began to filter out as the crew lingered on the stage for what seemed like just a little too long, making it seem like the house lights were about to come on signaling the end of the evening. Those who left missed out. When the band came back on stage, Matthews played "Oh," a mellow, sweet track from Some Devil, and that was followed by an incendiary rendition of "Ants Marching" that went straight into "Halloween."

Earlier in the night, Snoop Dogg got things started. People hadn't quite filled the venue out by the time he took the stage, but the folks that were there were a rolling sea of hands and dirty dance moves, shaking it to classics like "Lodi Dodi," "Gin and Juice" and "Drop It Like It's Hot." "I'd like to thank the fucking people of Colorado for legalizing marijuana," Snoop declared at the hilarious and heartwarming conclusion as he ended with Bob Marley's "Jammin."


Personal Bias: Well? just read this. Random Detail: The band played off of almost every studio album that they've ever recorded, plus some well-loved tracks off of a few live albums like Live At The Gorge and Live At Luther College. By the Way: I think Dave Matthews Band belongs in smaller outdoor amphitheaters, not necessarily places the size of Dick's. Even so, his fans are still as wholesome and supportive as I remember them to be, welcoming a chance to see them wherever they might be playing.

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