American rock heavyweights Dave Matthews Band bring their improvised and off-the-cuff live show to Abu Dhabi for the first time this weekend. Here’s why you should be excited… 

Does the name Dave Matthews Band mean anything to you? If you’re an American, or have spent much time in the USA, the group is likely on your iPhone and you’re probably confused by the question. But for those hailing from elsewhere, Dave Matthews Band might well be the most famous group you’ve never heard of prior to the announcement of their Abu Dhabi debut this week.

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The group began to form organically in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1991, but it wasn’t until 1994 – following a variety of line-up rejigs and band name debates – that the group released their first EP. Fast forward to 2010 and a world in which they’ve sold more than 30 million records. Also, in 2012 and they became the first group in history to have six consecutive albums debut at No 1 in the US Billboard Chart. Impressive.

But it’s their live shows and difficult to categorise style that Dave Matthews Band are most famous for. While largely classified as a rock group for ease, the band differs from its peers in the charts, not least as a result of its multi-racial and multi-genre make-up, which draws on jazz and world music influences and features violin and saxophone as prominently as guitar and drums.

They also appreciate a good jam session, and have become known for their US tours, which see them rip up the rule book and improvise huge sections of their show, ensuring two dates are never the same.

Indeed, the collaborative element of the band is perhaps its defining feature, and despite being the eponymous founder, Dave Matthews refers to his band mates as his superiors – and the band’s moniker as a mistake that stuck. Unable to decide on a name, the group were booking a gig and told the venue to write Matthews’ name in the diary as the contact. The booker added the word ‘band’ after his name, and it stuck.

Drummer Carter Beauford later told US magazine Modern Drummer, “As a matter of fact, that’s one of the things about this band that everybody likes: There isn’t a leader. Each one of us can express ourselves musically without being choked by a leader. Everybody can offer what they feel is going to enhance the music. It’s the freedom that we have to speak with our instruments.”

Gig on Thursday October 08

Du Arena, Yas Leisure Drive, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, 6pm, Dhs295. Tel: +971 2 509 8000. Taxi: Du Arena, Yas Island.

The tour that never stops


Dave Matthews Band has toured every summer since 1992, selling 19 million tickets in the process. At the end of 2009, the band were named the highest earning touring act of the decade, raking in more than $500 million. Frontman Dave Matthews describes life on the road.

“Starting a tour is a healthy combination of fear and excitement. I hope it doesn’t bleed onto the stage.

For us it’s just trying to feel as natural and have as good a time as we can in front of the audience. If that’s the case we can leave and feel that we have succeeded in our goal.

I want people to walk away feeling like, ‘That was almost cool.’ As long as people leave feeling like they got more than they bargained for, I feel like I am off the hook.

In the States the audiences are bigger. Sometimes we go to South America where the audiences are smaller. The number of people doesn’t matter, for us it’s the same. But what is different, is how audiences behave and that’s different everywhere you go. Touring is just what a musician should do. To travel and to play music. As long as I can, that is what I should do.”