For diehard fans of two well-known touring bands, it proved to be a far different concert experience this weekend in Grand Rapids. The recaps and photo galleries at Local Spins.
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More than 18 months into a global pandemic, live music and major tours once again are firing up big crowds across the country.
But COVID-19 is still impacting the scene, from vaccination requirements for concertgoers to positive COVID tests that alter — or scuttle — a band’s tours.
Such was the case this weekend with two shows: the first Dave Matthews Band concert in Grand Rapids in several years and a rescheduled Dawes concert that was forced to go solo due to COVID.
Check out the recaps and photos below.
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND AT VAN ANDEL ARENA (Saturday)
Dave Matthews Band rolled into Grand Rapids on Saturday evening, unfurling a riveting spectacle at Van Andel Arena.
With a seven-piece band and dazzling light show, Matthews energetically ripped through a career-spanning set.
Early in the evening, “Satellite” and “Seek Up” provided familiar refrains backed by a scorching band that included keyboards, electric guitar, horns and a grooving rhythm section.
Later on, “Where are You Going” offered a delicate, acoustic-driven number filled with wistful themes. Mathew’s signature voice filled the stadium while fans belted along. Psychedelic projections immersed the stadium in dreamy ambience.
Another highlight arrived with “Rapunzel,” a funky train of bright horns and clean instrumental breaks, as well as “You & Me,” a sentimental love song with syncopated rhythms led by Mathews’s intricate guitar work.
Sprawled across the arena, fans danced, cheered and toasted to the evening of musical revelry. The night concluded with an eruptive encore and closing favorites “Corn Bread,” and “Ants Marching.” – By Enrique Olmos
PHOTO GALLERY: Dave Matthews Band at Van Andel Arena
Photos by Jamie Geysbeek
DAWES AT CALVIN UNIVERSITY’S COVENANT FINE ARTS CENTER
COVID has upended Dawes more than once.
Originally announced in March 2020 and scheduled for September 2020, the Dawes show at Calvin University was beginning to feel like it would never happen. After the initial outbreak of COVID-19, the show was postponed for the following September.
But COVID again interfered, and the California band had to postpone shows for another two months while they dealt with some band members’ illnesses.
And on Friday, before the rescheduled show started, Calvin Student Activities Director Jack Droppers introduced the evening with a reminder that art expresses and helps us process uncertainty and change — and once again, the band had a COVID exposure that would force a change in plans.
This time, however, front person Taylor Goldsmith tested negative backstage so would perform a solo, acoustic set.
So while it wasn’t the expected rock ‘n’ roll display and the full band set that the audience and the artist would have preferred, an intimate evening of music satisfied fans: “It’s like I’m craving bacon and eggs, and I’m getting an amazing bowl of oatmeal instead.”
Cozy, soft guitar strumming washed over the attentive and encouraging crowd. A night of vulnerability, Goldsmith reflected on themes of longing and breakups, feelings he said haven’t been a part of his life in a while.
During “Between the Zero and the One,” Goldsmith got caught up and stumbled, forgetting some of the words. Before playing “Crack the Case,” a song about “Internet trolling,” Goldsmith lamented the heated, distressing direct messages fans sent when their tour was delayed earlier in the fall.
But even in a full room of people expecting a rock show, a living room atmosphere persisted. And because of the unusual format, Goldsmith was able to introduce the audience to songs even the band doesn’t quite know yet.
A new parent of an eight-month-old baby, Goldsmith’s songwriting turned to imagining comforting his future 12-year-old, guiding them through life’s dilemmas.
“I got you,” Goldsmith sings, and pauses, real emotion spilling into the performance. “This is embarrassing,” he tells the crowd. He continues the song, “When you’re looking at the bigger picture, keep an eye on the little one too.” Again, his voice cracks and he tears up.
“It’s not even that it’s that good of a song!” His audience laughs, and someone assures him “There are some tears out here, too.” – By Kendra Petersen-Kamp
PHOTO GALLERY: Dawes at Calvin University’s Covenant Fine Arts Center
Photos by Kendra Petersen-Kamp