Two near-sellout shows over the weekend by Dave Matthews Band marked the first concerts at the brand-new Home Depot Center on the campus of Cal State U. Dominguez Hills in Carson. In its scaled-down, 27,000-seat show configuration, the sparkling 40,000-capacity soccer stadium is also a very comfortable place to see a live music performance.
Veteran acoustic rock band –fast approaching the 10-year anniversary of its first major-label release — on Saturday offered a typically strong and eclectic set that mixed a couple of selections from each of its six studio albums and one EP, as well as a pair of concert favorites, Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” which closed the two-hour regular set, and the non-album “Granny,” which the band has been playing since 1994.
Though the last two albums have sounded more like Dave solo projects than true band collaborations, in concert the quintet (plus touring keyboard player) continues to produce a balanced team effort.
Each player was given numerous opportunities to shine, from “Two Step,” which found violin player Boyd Tinsley strumming his instrument like a small guitar, to Stefan Lessard’s excellent bass soloing after oldie “Ants Marching”; from Leroi Moore’s rousing saxophone intro for “One Sweet World,” to drummer Carter Beauford’s impressive in-song workout during 1998’s “Crush.”
Main focus for most, though, continues to be vocalist and guitar player Matthews, whose charming, shy-boy demeanor makes his mellow folk-jazz-rock songs that much easier to enjoy. He rarely speaks to the audience (once early in the show to say hello, and then much later to say thank you), but the loyal fans made clear their strong affection for Dave and his music.
In fact, the excitable crowd was so eager for the show to start — bow was delayed about 35 minutes — that many in the front sections began to chant the lyrics to opening tune “Everyday” even before the band had begun playing it, testament to the enthusiasm evident at all DMB perfs.
Venue is about 20 freeway minutes south of downtown L.A. and offers great sightlines for all attendees (boosted this night by the large video screens behind the stage), a particularly strong and effective sound system and well-organized parking lots that allowed for easy entry and exit.