You Do Not Hate Dave Matthews Band

As a card-carrying Dave Matthews hater, you should know something about yourself: You don't really hate Dave Matthews.

Oh, you beg to differ, but it's true. One cannot genuinely loathe the mellow South African and his eponymous, Grammy-winning light-rock foursome, The Dave Matthews Band, any more than one can genuinely loathe scented bath oil. Or tai chi. Or stained-glass window panels.

Still not convinced? Think of "Crash Into Me" and try to find hate in your heart. Go!

Dave Matthews Band
Dave Matthews Band

Told ya.

What you mistake for "hate" is actually the same low-intensity soul-panic that you might experience while watching a Ron Howard movie, or ordering from a Cheesecake Factory menu. There's nothing explicitly horrible in there; indeed, some of it actually borders on good, but the overall product leaves you feeling a little dead inside.

Still, you want to hate. I get that. So here are five legitimate rationales for intense Matthews non-like that you can cite with friends, aside from the passé "they're a jam band" or the rigidly doctrinal "their music sucks."

The Cult Factor: Remember the first time you told a hardcore DMB enthusiast that you find the group's adult-contemporary sound kind of retarded? I do. She was a friend of mine, and it was an incredibly vivid experience, mostly for the swift, colorful storm of emotions that immediately followed. First came a look of supreme alarm, like: "Oh, my God! You don't like Matthews! It can't be!" Then came the confusion: "But Matthews is awesome. And we're friends! It doesn't compute." Next, the indignation: "Hating Matthews is like hating a sunset. You don't know shit." And, finally, the pity: "I feel sad for you."

Essentially, it was like telling a Christian family member that you don't believe in Jesus. And therein lies the most insidious aspect of DMB's appeal: Fans of the band don't seem to understand how the rest of us could possibly not worship them. It's distinctly cultish, and it makes me wonder if one day we'll find all 10 million DMB fans lined up on a farm near Charlottesville, Virginia, dead from poisoned carrot juice, with "Crush" playing over the compound's P.A. system. Creepily plausible, huh?

They Suffer by Association: DMB came to prominence in the mid-'90s, right around the same time as Hootie and the Blowfish, Counting Crows, and Alanis Morissette (who started her career singing back-up for Matthews). Let's be honest: It was a black, disgusting nadir for American pop music, and though Matthews is in no way as loathsome as the three aforementioned acts, he may have helped them find purchase on America's collective musical psyche. And that's the devil's work, I say.

They're Irony Killers: I don't like Phil Collins, but I think I could have fun at one of his concerts. I'd remember his work on Miami Vice, think of Christian Bale's riotous pre-coital critique of No Jacket Required in American Psycho ("Don't just stare at it . . . Eat it!"), have a few beers and, you know, enjoy myself. Ironically.

That couldn't really happen at a Matthews concert. After all, this is a multi-ethnic band led by a politically contrite white South African who sings about inclusiveness and tolerance and stuff. They're just not fun to hate. Honestly, I think I could have more fun watching a bunch of pretentious ass-clowns like Creed.

They're Not Sexy: By all accounts, DMB is a technically gifted group of session musicians. You've got Carter Beauford's expansive drumming, Stefan Lessar's jazzy yet obedient bass, and the sometimes-catchy guitar licks and horny-cat wailing of Matthews himself. In terms of overall professionalism and sound compression, the band is reminiscent of '70s studio greats Steely Dan. What DMB lacks is the Dan's leavening fiendishness — that artful disconnect between form and content that gave a skinny Scarsdale Jew and his hippie, near-sighted sidekick their wildly improbable sex appeal. DMB has no such disconnect. No secrets. No sex.

They Have a Full-Time Violin Player: Are we doing a cover of "Kashmir?" No? Then lose the freakin' violin.

 
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14 comments
Joe Gribble
Joe Gribble

The only thing I hate more than Dave Matthews was this article. Actually, I take that back, they're about on par. You're obviously a complete idiot if you think there is anything musically redeeming about the song "Crash" and yes, I hate that song. It is awful. Your bland analogy to the Cheesecake Factory falls completely short. There are many music fans like myself who really do hate Dave Matthews and your insistence that we do not hate him is not only ignorant, but insulting. His music sucks, his songwriting is a joke, and people who are fans of so-called "DMB" are mind boggling morons who have to be told what sounds good.

Nikola
Nikola

On the contrary...Dave himself is extremely attractive. He is so bursting at the seams with talent, he seethes and oozes pure sex appeal. He is a soulful, genuine marvel of a man.I can't imagine any finer experience than listenin g to him for hours on end, or waiting on him hand and foot and fulfilling his every wish :)

Chris
Chris

You're a moron.

Josh
Josh

Do not judge based on this band's radio songs -- you can't judge what they do based on that, because the radio doesn't fit them. They are neither rock, jazz or folk band, just a melding of the three, which is why they have a tough time finding a place in popular culture/radio/mtv. This is also what makes them truly unique. And you definitely don't know the band until A) you've listened to one of their 90s albums all the way through (discounting the radio songs) and B) seen them live, when they take what normal bands do - play their songs as you hear them on the radio - and instead turn it upside down and create something new and exciting every night. "Jam band" is not what they are - there is structure to their songs, and it's great, but then they loosen up and play within that structure while on stage to not get bored with the same songs, every night, in front of their crowd. Will never get the respect they deserve. Superb band and music. And I'm unafraid to admit it. Too often they get looped into the decade of music they became popular in - the 90s, which consisted of boy bands, Hootie and awful Seattle grunge knockoffs, when in fact they are the last ones standing from that decade, truly still a successful band. There's a reason for that; find it in the music.

Arianna Tsoukalas
Arianna Tsoukalas

As a card-carrying Dave Matthews Band LOVER, I must admit I do find it hard to comprehend how some do not like them. I understand that everyone has a right to their own opinion, what I hate as a DMB lover is how people who don't like them give me hell because I do. To each his own. They are a ridiculously talented group of musicians and for anyone to claim they "hate" them because their music sucks is completely asinine.

That being said rationale's 1,2 and 3 made me smile, but you are completely off base on #4 and #5. They are sexy as hell and it wouldn't be right is they got rid of the violin - that is them!

J.T.
J.T.

Look, I'll give it to you "Crash into me" is a decent song, and I actually really like "Gravedigger". But other than that, I pretty much can't even listen to it. It's just so boring. It's unbelievable to me that anyone under the age of 30 can possibly like it. Yes they are good musicians, but Kenny G is a pretty damn good sax player. That doesn't mean he doesn't suck.

One of the comments said "Can't say that about Creed." (being musically talented). Actually, Mark Tremonti from Creed is an excellent guitar player. Among the best. I remember in a guitar world poll Creed was voted the second worst band but Tremonti was voted best rock guitarist.

I can in fact make my own list about why I hate "DMB"

1. Some of the most boring music I have ever listened to.2. His voice3. The lyrics. "Flowers watch the sun go away to far away over the castles and the sand, hey people you need to listen, the children speak to us every day, everything they say divine in its own way." Completely made that up, but its pretty Dave sounding4. The way his fans call him Dave, even when the band has not entered conversation. There are other Daves. Dave Mustaine, Dave Clark, Davy Havoc come to mind.5. Yes the fans for the most part suck, hit the nail on the head there. They follow them around, and like to bro out with the bros. If you talk to people who are really into jam bands, Dave Matthews is sort of like Korn to serious metalheads.

Maybe an album like These Crowded Streets is "edgy". Don't know, haven't listened to it, but I'll take your word for the purpose of argument. The fact is that he has made albums full of syrupy pop crap since then. That says something.

penny hayes
penny hayes

I am a relatively new fan of DMB, (within the last three years). I was introduced to Dave by my other half. I would whole heartedly agree that not everyone gets DMB. One of my best friends totally does not like anything DMB and I think that is really sad. I think that many people do not get Dave's music because they are not open to it. They are not willing to look beyond the immediate. The Maker, Christmas Song, Two Step, One Sweet World, Gray Street, Grace Is Gone, You Never Know, Stay or Leave, Let You Down are just a few of their songs that just say so much. I think most people just accept what today passes for good music. I also agree that DMB will probably never get the status as true musicians but that's okay by me! DMB is truly one of the great music makers!

Andy
Andy

"Alanis Morissette (who started her career singing back-up for Matthews)"

Umm...what? No.

Brian
Brian

I love the haters. More tickets for me!

heyberto
heyberto

I am a fan, and get that people don't like it. I personally can't stand hip hop or rap, but millions do, so to each their own. I find it funny that the author knows an awful lot about a band he hates.. I don't like Creed either, but I also don't know anything about it. I do want to echo the poster above that said it takes delving in a little deeper to their catalog to get to their really good stuff. These guys are so good live, and much better in that forum than on their studio albums. As much as I like them, I recognize they'll never be among music history's elite like the Rolling Stones, REM or U2.

I also have to say, I find it funny that the band is conisdered 'boring' to a degree, because in their early career they were all regarded as weirdos. Their sound was pretty revolutionary back in the early - mid 90's, but unfortunately they haven't really grown much from that or built on where they started. Many of us are hopeful their new album will signal a second coming and return to form, but we'll just have to see. Anyway, if you don't like them, that's cool, I'm not offended. If everybody liked them it would probably be because they conformed too much to what Pop music is today, which I can't stand.

Josh
Josh

People who think DMB is just inoffensive adult contemporary obviously aren't familiar with their music; you can't just go by what you hear on the radio (i.e. "Crash Into Me") or the "hits" casual fans like to repeatedly play. Listen through Before These Crowded Streets and tell me that's just a safe adult contemporary or pop album. It's so, SO different from everything else you hear out there, and it's so far above most other bands in terms of musicianship, structure, variety, depth, feeling, etc. it's not even funny. Their other albums, while more... regular, I guess, are still fantastic musically (with the exception of the mainstream rock Everyday and the bleh Stand Up). Sure, "Crash Into Me" is just a pop song, and yeah, its lyrics are pretty bad, but it's still beautiful music. Even if you disagree on that last point, for every one of those pop singles, there are a lot more like "#41," "Warehouse," "Raven," "The Dreaming Tree," "The Stone," etc. That's why when I hear comments (from others) about their music being "vanilla" or "soulless," it irks me, 'cause those people obviously don't know what they're talking about. In reality, people hate (or dislike) this false perception they have of DMB, as well as (understandably, in some cases) their fans. Unfortunately, I don't see that changing. It might help if the band (or the label, or whoever it is) decides to make one of their less safe / not so immediately accessible songs a single, but even still the majority of people will just keep playing and listening to the more "regular" hits at parties and whatnot (cause that's what's popular, after all).

(Btw, I would still argue that those hits are great musically. They're just easier for some people to hate on, for various reasons.)

Mark
Mark

I'd just like to say that, as a lifelong fan of DMB, I can understand perfectly well why some people can't stand them. Dave's voice is a love-it-or-hate-it affair. The general "non-offensiveness" of the music makes most hard-headed types think the music is too prissy to listen to (how could they admit they like something so "pretty"?).

But this article did nail a couple items right on the head. They are an incredibly talented group of musicans, technically and artistically. Can't say that about Creed. They also do preach tolerance and inclusiveness, along with love and sex and time signatures most other bands couldn't comprehend let alone play.

But by all means, hate away. And while I ain't no Jay-sus freak (amen!) I will most certainly pity you for failing to find the beauty in this band's music. :)

Martin Cizmar
Martin Cizmar

Having lived near Charlottesville, and near Tempe, I can guarantee you CVille is more of a "cool college town." It's right up there with Athens, GA.

JeffC...
JeffC...

While it's true that DMB got its start in a college town, it was the home of the University of Virginia. While it's a beautiful location, Charlottesville could never be described as "edgy" and is nowhere near as cool as other state-U college towns (like Austin, Athens, Berkeley, or even Tempe).

 

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