Where my income goes.
You know what's hard? Trying to find an amusing anecdote from my day that I can somehow parlay into a dissertation about the Dave Matthews Band. I did this once by talking about strippers, but, sadly, there have been no strange naked women dancing in my home today and I have neither the energy nor funds to seek them.
You see, I've recently become addicted to the Discovery Channel, specifically the shows MythBusters and Dirty Jobs. This weekend I spent the good majority of my time watching Dirty Jobs with your host Mike Rowe (who has to be the most charismatic motherfucker this side of Xzibit), while I spent the bulk of my afternoon watching MythBusters.
With all this TV-watching, there is little that can surprise me, commercial-wise. I'm aware that there are at least two movies coming out this weekend, Good Luck Chuck (which I won't see) and The Brothers Solomon (which I might see*). I also know that Colgate can make my teeth whiter, Tide will make my brights brighter, and the iPhone will make me happier than I could ever possibly imagine.
Anyway, as I was watching MythBusters a commercial I had never seen before came on. It's Dave Matthews and his band sitting around some sort of warehouse talking about a contest. You see, if you win this contest, the Dave Matthews Band will come play a gig at your college.
OMFG, as the kids say.
Never before have I heard of such a perfect marketing ploy. College students are the only people who will ever pay money to see a Dave Matthews Band gig. Once, in high school, I had the opportunity to see Dave Matthews play. I opted to go to prom. Others didn't. But if I were in college and stupid and stoned and stupid and bored and stupid and hard-up for celibate relationships with faux-hippie trust-fund babies and stupid, maybe the choice would've been clearer.
Now, before I get accused of being a music snob, let me make a full disclosure: I like crappy music.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the cerebral sounds of Radiohead and the Beta Band. I enjoy the political bent of music from Arlo Guthrie to R.E.M. I love soul, R&B, and rap. But, on the other hand, I enjoy the sounds of Poison, Seal, and Garth Brooks. In fact, given the choice of any era of music to listen to, I'd probably pick the the 90s, hands down, every time.
Case in point; so far, while writing this, I've been listening to the Goo Goo Dolls, Prince, Ani DiFranco, Matchbox20, and the Foo Fighters on my iTunes.**
And, in spite of my criticisms, I actually like most of the Dave Matthews catalogue. Before These Crowded Streets is a fantastic album, and Under the Table and Dreaming is pretty good, too. I like a handful of his singles, like "Ants Marching," "Where Are You Going?," and "Everyday," but the fact that he's become the beacon light of almost a whole generation of privileged college kids and their moms (oh yes, I went there) means that I dislike his fans much more than I dislike him or his music.
Maybe it's the shotgun effect; maybe, since he has such a broad appeal his fanbase is bound to encompass people I dislike, and maybe I shouldn't damn him for that. I'm quick to point out that people who like country music aren't inbred hicks, people who like gangsta rap aren't menaces to society, and people who like Morrisey aren't gay,*** so maybe it's time I prove to myself that Dave Matthews Band fans aren't ... well, aren't all the nasty things I called them a few paragraphs up.
I was having a conversation with one of the women I work with a few days ago. This 40-something woman was going to see Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd with her 18 year old son. (Yes, I did, in fact laugh. Not at her or her kid, but at anyone who would see a Nickelback show.) As we talked we shared anecdotes of seeing different bands. I told her about my grandfather who, while on leave from his army base in Texas, saw Elvis Presley open for Hank Williams, Sr. at a county fair full of screaming, swooning, fainting teenage girls.
My co-worker talked about seeing the Grateful Dead play in St. Louis weeks before Jerry Garcia died in 1995 and how the interstate was at a dead standstill with cars heading downtown to see the Grateful Dead play. The parking lot was full of everything from BMWs to minivans to VW microbuses and the seats were full of people from every age, racial, or income bracket. These people couldn't've known this show was one of Garcia's last, so it had to be the band itself that brought such a huge cross-section of people to one rock show.
Granted, the Dead had a full thirty years of exposure under their belt at this point, and they presided over some of the most tumultuous years of rock history, but I'd be remiss not to admit that the Dave Matthews Band is on the fast track to becoming the new Dead (and Matthews himself would be stupid not to recognize that he's the new Garcia).
How do I know this?
Let's go back to my iTunes; Currently, I'm playing "Happy" by Sister Hazel. Not a bad song; not their "hit," but their "other song." If you look at DMB's contemporaries, they all had their "hit," their "other song," and their "oh, that's them?" song. Sister Hazel made their name with "All for You" (you remember that one), then followed up with "Happy" (do you remember that one?), which was followed sometime later with "Champagne High" (which no one but me remembers).
The same line can be plotted for Fastball: "The Way" followed by "Out of My Head" followed by "You're an Ocean" followed by nothing at all.****
Or, consider the Wallflowers; "One Headlight" was followed by "Sixth Avenue Heartache" which was followed by "That One Song That Was the Theme Song to That CBS Show About a Lawyer Or Social Worker Or Something." With the exception of some sub-par covers of David Bowie and Van Morrison songs, there's little else to discuss about them.
My point is, despite being contemporaries of these groups, Dave Matthews has stuck around, and not because he's any better than them musically (the man's latest song is called "Eee-Hee," for Christssakes ...), but because his fans continue to perpetuate the idea that his songs and albums are "deep" (translation: better when stoned). There's nothing "deep" about Rob Thomas or Fall-Out Boy, let alone Jay-Z or Maroon 5 (although I think the chorus of "Makes Me Wonder" is about coming to grips with man's inherit atheism, but that's another story). Anymore, Dave Matthews' music is a rite of passage for college kids, a way of shaking off what you listened to at prom, a way of defining yourself as a "college kid." It's not unlike Bob Marley, the Doors, and the aforementioned Garcia-fronted stoner band (Jewel used to be on this list, too, but then she did a song for a Batman movie, thus "selling out.")
Honestly, the only thing more appropriate than a college concert with the Dave Matthews Band would be Kenny Chesney holding a private concert for my dad.
*I'm thinking about seeing The Brothers Solomon - which stars Will Arnet - and Superbad - which stars Michael Cera - back to back so I can pretend Arrested Development is still on the air.
**Side note: Is there a better pop single than "Big Me" by the Foo Fighters? Maybe "I'll Cry Instead" by the Beatles or "Young Folks" by Peter, Bjorn, and John, but that's quite a maybe.
***This is somewhat difficult.
****This actually isn't true. In 2003, Fastball put out Keep Your Wig On which was fantastic. I highly recommend it. Actually, I recommend all of Fastball's albums, especially The Harsh Light of Day.