Saturday brought more great music and continued beautiful weather for day two of DMB Caravan. All weekend temperatures hovered around the 80 degree mark, and a nice breeze kept the crowds relatively cool throughout the event. Really, the weather couldn't have been better.
After grabbing lunch and walking around Atlantic City's shopping district, Jan and I made our way over to the field for our second day full of concerts. Coming into this weekend, Saturday's lineup was the most exciting for me. First up were Punch Brothers. No genre of music has grown on me quite as much as Bluegrass has over the last year. With bands like Avett Brothers, Frontier Ruckus, and Mumford & Sons moving steadily into the mainstream, it seems like Bluegrass is finding a niche in today's music fan's rotation. Chris Thile of Punch Brothers should be seen as one of the main reasons for Bluegrass' rise in popularity. The former Nickel Creek mandolinist has been playing music since he was five. At the age of 12 he won the national mandolin championship! In one form or another, Christ Thile has been a part of this movement of bluegrass music for nearly 20 years. Saturday's performance showed just how talented Thile and the rest of Punch Brothers really were. The audience was quite sparse as most concert goers were claiming spots for the upcoming Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds acoustic set. This made it easy for us to grab a good spot. The Punch Brothers put on a great set, strumming their way through a raucous set, the highlight of which was closer and fan favorite Rye Whiskey! Amongst all the music from this weekend, it's been this song that's been stuck in my head most often. Punch Brothers were a great way to start a solid day two.
Next up was likely the most widely anticipated daytime set of the weekend, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds' acoustic set. Since we took in Punch Brothers first, we didn't have much of a shot at claiming a decent spot for Dave and Tim. So we set up or blanket (best purchase of the weekend) on the outskirts of the crowd to just take in the music. I went to my first Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds concert last summer, and they blew away the crowed with 30 songs all done perfectly. Dave Matthews has always been known to say off the wall and ridiculous things at his concerts, but in an acoustic setting his stories are hilarious and more personal. While the set was short, it was very well done. The majority of Dave Matthews fans haven't seen him play in a setting such as this, as he only does it every so often, however, I think it's an amazing idea to have this as part of the Caravan experience. One of the greatest things about seeing Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds live, is Tim Reynolds' utterly first class guitar playing skills. The man can make so many different noises at one time using just his guitar. It's unreal. His solo performance of "Betrayal" was my favorite song of the set. Additionally, the duo played "So Damn Lucky" as the encore. The end of "So Damn Lucky" with the repeating rift played by Tim and Dave Matthews repeated "round and round" makes for a great finish. I think this performance was highlight of the weekend for many folks.
As Dave and Tim ended we headed over to the Pacific stage to watch Lisa Hannigan. If you've been reading this blog for a while you know that I'm just a little in love with Lisa Hannigan. I enjoyed her work with Damien Rice and now she is doing more than alright on her own. Also, I think she's adorable and has an angelic voice.... sigh. Anyway, I've seen Lisa Hannigan play before, and I could wait to see her play again. She seemed so composed and so thankful to the crowd that came out to see her. Favorite songs included "I Don't Know", "Venn Diagram", and her new song "Passenger." I think Lisa Hannigan is absolutely beautiful, but all kidding aside, she's a great performer is incredibly appreciative of her fans. If you haven't checked out her music yet, you really should. You're missing out.
Guster performed next. Guster is one of my friend Jan's favorite bands, so I was really glad they were along for the Caravan. Jan was an awesome sport about seeing some bands she had never heard, so it was about time there was a band she was psyched for. I had never seen Guster live before, but they drew a great crowd. Among the songs played was Jan's favorite "I Spy" as well as "Demons".
After Guster it was time for dinner which included absolutely the worst fish tacos I've ever had and a decent piece of pizza. We also watched log rolling at the Dos Equis tent. It's extremely entertaining to watch drunk people fall off the log. I could have stayed for hours. While we were laughing and trying to enjoy dinner we missed Damien Marley, but his set was extremely popular with Shane, Teresa, and Kati. I didn't hear much of it, but they had nothing but great things to say about his performance.
Night two of Dave Matthews Band just improved on an already solid night one. For me, this show was all about rare songs and guest performances. "Write a Song" a track that didn't make it onto Big Whiskey and the Gru Grux King made an appearance. Probably the biggest surprise of the night was the return of "Break Free" which hadn't been performed since 2006. "Break Free" like many Dave Matthews Band songs was never released on a studio album. It was one of my favorite songs that debuted in 2006, and has one of my favorite choruses of any Dave Matthews Band song, which says a lot.
About midway through the set Dave Matthews invited South African vocalist Vusi Mahlasela for a performance of "Everyday". Mahlasela actually contributed his voice to the studio recording of "Everyday" as well. Vusi Mahlasela has guested with Dave Matthews Band only five times. Through some stroke of good luck, I've happened to see him guest three times. He adds an element to a song, that without him isn't one of my favorites.
Two songs later came my favorite performance of the night. Yet again, Dave Matthews invited a guest on stage, this time Warren Haynes. Warren Haynes is part of The Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule. He's also been known to play a few good riffs on the electic guitar. Haynes performed on "#41" Saturday night, which is already in my list of favorite songs of all time. "#41" is known for it's extended outro full of instrumental solos. This performance included an electrifying solo by Haynes followed by him and Tim Reynolds trading riffs back and forth. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the crowd who didn't enjoy this performance. As if the night couldn't get any better, it was followed by "Blackjack", a song that made it's debut late in last year's tour that is becoming a crowd favorite.
The final song of Saturday night was an epic version of "Two Step". "Two Step" has always been a go-to closer for the band, but this performance was special. His conga drums throughout the song, paired with Carter Beauford tearing it up through the end of the song made this performance one to remember.
Two days down. Some outstanding bands, fun times, along with surprises and guest appearances... and there was still more of the same to come on Sunday.