Never one to shy away from publicly supporting a presidential candidate, Dave Matthews campaigned in Richmond on Sunday in a way only he could pull off. The Virginia Commonwealth University Siegal Center was filled with hardcore Dave fans, Obama volunteers and maybe a few CraigsList patrons with deep pockets. Joining Mr. Matthews on stage was his long-time collaborator and good friend Tim Reynolds.
Throughout their summer tour, the Dave Matthews Band stressed the importance of voting, regardless of political affiliation. Now a resident of Seattle, Matthews recognizes that his home state of Virginia could be the difference in this election. For those that know him well, it is no surprise that his stance on the issues are in line with Barack Obama's. While Matthews usually pushes issues such as health care and the environment, he made it clear that he looks forward to paying higher taxes under an Obama administration.
The relatively small venue gave him the chance to speak to the entire crowd between songs. His short phrases in funny voices -- known as DaveSpeak to serious fans -- had everyone laughing, even if we couldn't understand what he was saying. He didn't speak for long, but he got the point across -- this is our opportunity to make a difference.
The set list was a well-balanced mix of new songs and old hits. "Don't Drink the Water" was a strong open, which even included a short cover of "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie. Twice Matthews allowed Reynolds to show off his skills on the guitar, including an amazing version of "Stream," made popular by the band's "Live at Luther College" CD. Rarely played tunes such as "The Dreaming Tree" gave the crowd an intimate melody that could never be performed at a large venue. Crowd favorites like Two Step and Crash helped close out the regular set. After the crowd refused to leave without a little more Dave and Tim, they returned to close the night with Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower".
It was an incredible night of music, with tasteful plugs for Barack Obama. Dave even thanked the crowd for coming out and spending their "hard earned nothing" on the show. If everyone campaigned like Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, people would wish campaign season were every year.
Curtis Rogers is opinion editor Michael Rogers' brother.