With the fifth installment in the “Live Trax” series, fans will find themselves enjoying a solid show which took place in the midst of a fabulous month. Not too long ago the crew released 8/23/95. Interestingly enough after 9 years and over 10 live releases, we come full circle to another August 1995 performance.
As you sit there listening to the newest Live Trax (8/23/95) and soak up a Proudest Monkey opener, or a classic Pay For What You Get performance, let’s go back and take a look at the history of live releases from DMB.
During the summer of 1997, Dave Matthews Band was considered by many publications and media outlets (MTV, Rolling Stone, VH1 etc...) as “the summer act.” It was a label and role that the band had already been filling since July of 1995. 1997, however, saw the shortest tour the band had ever taken at that point. Perhaps in fear of losing steam from their momentous and rising popularity, the crew/band wanted to give their fans something to chew on while they went in and recorded Before These Crowded Streets later that year.
In October of 1997, we saw the release of “Live At Red Rocks – 8/15/95”. With no marketing and very little promotion (mostly word of mouth from fans), Red Rocks - 8/15/95 managed to land itself in at the #3 spot on the billboard charts, pushing over a half a million copies in its first month. The release ultimately went platinum in a half a year.
Red Rocks ’95 quickly became a cornerstone of comparison for live versions of Seek Up, Dancing Nancies, #36, Ants Marching and so on. Red Rocks was initially broadcasted on local radio stations in Colorado, and the transfer of the live recording to the airwaves was done by Dan Healy. Healy worked with bands like The Grateful Dead and even specialized in live recordings. Dave Matthews gave special recognition to Dan at the last show of the summer 1995 tour, “Thanks to Dan Healy for teachin’ us a bunch of stuff."
In the booklet of Red Rocks ’95 you will find a statement that reads: "This is a first in a series of releases featuring Dave Matthews Band live in concert" This series would go on to include more in store releases, DVD’s, online downloads, and fan club releases. Red Rocks ’95 set the bar. It’s a show that is still widely regarded as one of the best the band has ever performed and it’s a release that is often at the top of every fan’s list.
For the second release in this series, the crew went with a Dave & Tim show from their first tour in ’96. 2/6/96 was a solid show that finally allowed the entire fan base to become more aquatinted with Tim Reynolds' style and additions on the acoustic guitar. Luther College was released in January of 1999, right before the kickoff of Dave and Tim’s third tour.
It seemed that this time the choice of release was also geared towards a marketing and promotional viewpoint because it pushed the D&T sound on the eve of a matching tour. You could also look at it another way. The release could have been the product of an idea sparked from the freshly announced D&T ’99 tour, figuring interest enough would generate more album sales for a live release of the duo. Either way, Luther College ended up becoming a standard in acoustic settings.
With passionate performances of Typical Situation, Deed Is Done, Cry Freedom, and one of the finest displays of emotion within #41, this release (2/6/96) generated just as much buzz in the fan community as was evident with Live at Luther’s debut at #2 on the billboard charts. It seemed as if the band and crew were releasing gem after gem with Crash, Red Rocks, Before These Crowded Streets, and now Live at Luther College.
Sadly, the 1999 Dave and Tim tour would be the last until they reunited 4 years later in 2003. We not only have the great shows from ’99 to look back on from the Dave and Tim tour, but we also have a double live album full of signature performances that are still talked about today.
Towards the end of the summer tour in 1999, rumors were spread of a live show being filmed for PBS and possibly a near future release. With over a month off, the band rested after the last summer show (8/8/99). They came back to perform two more gigs before heading back into the studio to record what would become known as the Lillywhite Sessions. Those two shows included, a Farm Aid performance (DMB’s third time there), and a lone show in New Jersey (9/11/99).
In November of ’99, a little over two months after the performance, the band and crew released a two-punch combo with Listener Supported; double-live album and DVD. Both the DVD and album steadily picked up sales as the months went by, but the initial outing of this release didn’t have the spark that the previous two releases had with their debut chart landing.
Listener Supported promoted a growth from the rough and sometimes sloppy play of the BTCS songs in ’98, and showed just how far DMB had come musically in a single year. The performances were smooth and flawless, the video and production (mix) were perfect and balanced. Listener Supported was a window to view the level of maturity DMB would grow by in the coming years.
Next week: Part II: Confusion Over Live In Chicago
Trusted Stuff is a regular column on Dave Matthews Band written by Brandon L. You can share your thoughts and questions about this piece in the comment thread below.