Chicago and Sunshine Greet Dave Matthews Band Caravan

Dave Matthews Band Caravan opening night in Chicago, 8 July 2011, at Lakeside

Dave Matthews second stop on his inaugural Caravan Tour was also a first for Chicago’s Lakeside festival grounds. Despite a gate crasher or two early Friday afternoon as the VIPs were entering the grounds, the three days of baking in the sun were mostly uneventful for staff and security.

ConcertCapture teamed up with The Dead Hub for this show and we were able to check out the venue before the 35-40 thousand fans trampled onto the mulch field.  Three stages, an abundance of good (and often healthy) food choices, free Brita water filling stations (another couple were needed), and a ferris wheel filled the festival grounds.  If there was a lack of anything it was shade and many fans quickly learned to line up along the fence line in an attempt gain some temporary relief from the punishing sun.

Event staff hoarding shade before gates opened.Main stageSide view of main stageFriday VIP gate crasher meets security.Gates open!DMB limited edition poster or head to the stage?

As a photographer, it was a complicated task to head back and forth between main- and side-stages because we were only allowed to enter and leave from stage right.  The result was a sweat-soaked dash, sometimes over fans’ blankets, in an attempt to get to the predetermined location to shoot the first three songs of each set.  This could have been remedied by providing us pit access from either side of the stage.




 

The Caravan ‘system’ seemed to work efficiently for the fans.  Three stages faced one another in a triangular layout.  South Works (the main-stage) and a pair of side-stages, Lakeside and The Slip formed the “angles” on the triangle.  Music alternated with one act performing on South Works followed nearly immediately by bands competing for attention on both Lakeside and The Slip during simultaneous performances.  In the end, each of the 38 bands performed a 45-60 minute set during one of the three days, while DMB headlined to close out each night.

The first day had me bouncing between Amos Lee, SOJA, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros for the earlier sets.

Amos LeeAmos LeeJacob Hemphill - SOJABob Jefferson - SOJAJacob Hemphill - SOJAAlex Ebert - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosNora Kirkpatrick - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosChristian Letts - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosAaron Embry - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

The food options looked great, something I needed to confirm for myself.  After a quick food break, because Ray Lamontagne denied photo access from the pit (apparently he’s shy), I was able to photograph O.A.R. before Dave Matthews finished off the night with a magical 3-hour set.  There was a bit of dread in covering O.A.R. as the Lakeside stage had been enveloped in harsh sunlight for most of the afternoon.  However, their 7:00 pm set was met with a setting sun and it draped the band in a flattering orange glow.

O.A.R.Marc Roberge - O.A.R.Richard On - O.A.R.O.A.R.Benj Gershman - O.A.R.Chris Culos - O.A.R.Marc Roberge - O.A.R.Jerry DePizzo - O.A.R.Richard On - O.A.R.O.A.R.

The second day side stages were as intriguing as the first.  Liz Phair was abysmal and her vocals  completely trampled her band’s sound; her set was the sole downside to any of the musical performances.  G. Love & Special Sauce and Ben Folds both had typically quirky and fun appearances before Kid Cudi generated the most hyperactive crowd response–not easily achieved considering the medicated nature of the fans.

G. Love - G. Love & Special SauceTimo Shanko - G. Love & Special SauceJeffrey Clemens - G. Love & Special SauceBen FoldsBen FoldsKid CudiKid CudiKid Cudi

Having never witnessed DMB perform live, I was not sure what to expect. After the first minutes into Squirm it was obvious why DMB followers are so rabid–Dave Matthews exists to enrapture the planet through music.  Though most were complaining about the 10-20 minute, hot and dusty, walk from the parking area (that was provided gratis), most were mellowed out by the time Dave and company took the stage a little after 8:00 pm.

Speaking with a few fans in the front row, before DMB took the stage on Day 2, suggested their knowledge of Dave Matthews bordered on cult status.  They noted the songs he played the first day and then predicted what guitar would first grace the stage that night.  Upon Matthews’ entrance they shouted out the three to four songs that could be performed with that particular instrument.  Matthews’ smirk directly at the front row was not merely an endorsement of their acuity but also recognition of the family-like atmosphere that surrounds their performances.

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Setlists

DMB Day 1:

1. Squirm
2. Big Eyed Fish
3. Don’t Drink the Water
4. Pantala Naga Pampa
5. Rapunzel
6. Write a Song
7. You Might Die Trying
8. Out of My Hands
9. Louisiana Bayou
10. Funny the Way It Is
11. Joyride
12. Cornbread
13. What Would You Say
14. Dive In
15. You & Me
16. Good Times Bad Times  (Led Zeppelin cover)
17. Tripping Billies
Encore:
18. Sweet (Dave solo)
19. Stay or Leave
20. Jimi Thing
21. Shake Me Like a Monkey
22. Stay (Wasting Time)

DMB Day 2:

1. #41
2. Seven
3. Burning Down the House (Talking Heads cover)
4. Break Free
5. Why I Am
6. Proudest Monkey
7. Satellite
8. Blackjack
9. Crush
10. Granny
11. Lying in the Hands of God
12. Alligator Pie
13. Lie in Our Graves
14. Too Much
15. Crash Into Me
16. Grey Street
Encore:
17. A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum cover; Dave solo)
18. Time Bomb
19. Two Step

DMB Day 3:

1. One Sweet World
2. Bartender
3. Say Goodbye
4. The Best of What’s Around
5. Captain
6. Shotgun
7. Warehouse
8. Spaceman
9. Seek Up
10. When the World Ends
11. Rhyme & Reason (with Joe Lawlor)
12. Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith cover; with Joe Lawlor)
13. The Idea of You
14. Buena (Morphine cover)
15. Gravedigger
16. Can’t Stop
17. All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover)
Encore:
18. Some Devil (Dave solo)
19. Sister
20. Ants Marching
21. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (Sly & The Family Stone cover)

Head over to The Dead Hub for in depth concert reviews and more photos.

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2 Comments

  1. Jason 13 July 2011 at 13:51 #

    Great show but hated the mulch.

    These are serially some of the best DMB photos I’ve ever seen! Great job and thanks for sharing v

    • admin 13 July 2011 at 13:56 #

      Have to agree about the mulch, I had to switch from shoes to hiking boots after the first day because mulch splinters were all up inside my shoes. I’d have gone sandals if I wasn’t trying to track quickly back and forth between stages.

      Thanks for the kind words about the photos!