So I really thought the first day of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan (#DBM twitter.com/amysrosenberg for the play by play on Friday), was a huge success for all involved.
Bader FIeld, despite an inordinate amount of dirt left over from the big burn, turns out to be an excellent and scenic and roomy spot for a music festival. The old municipal airport right by the side of Route 40 just west of the Albany Avenue bridge is a roomy venue, right on the water, and three stages, plus food plus merchandise plus farmer's market and even a drive your jeep thing, fit easily on the site. The walk to the venue over the bridge felt cool, and when the bridge went up, it allowed a little pre-festival camraderie to develop right there over the intercoastal waterway. LIke these dudes, from Michigan, who lost their hackey-sack into the water while waiting for the bridge to close and said, memorably, "What river is this?"]]>
I ran into these guys later in the afternoon in front of the Flaming Lips set on the Atlantic Stage and they were having a great time. That set, by the way, with Flaming Lips singer Wayne Coyne dressed up in fur surrounded by dancing Dorothy's, Tin Men etc., performing Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and trying, unsuccessfully, to land a cash-filled balloon in the crowd (swept away by breezes into what Coyne called "the river"), was for me the highlight of the day.
Security at the gate estimated 25,000 streaming in all day; Atlantic City police said 20,000 this morning but were predicting more for Saturday. They reminded that there is no parking at the site, try www.DMBcaravan.com for parking lots with shuttles, including the AC Expressway Interceptor lots. I liked the feel of the whole event, how places like the Knife & Fork set up a little $2 budweiser beer porch for people passing by, how after the show, which ended at 10:30, 30 minutes earlier than expected, Atlantic City police just kind of improvised for the early exodus. They started by keeping everyone confined to the sidewalk and one blocked off lane, but then the crowd just migrated to the entire street, which I believe was the plan anyway but startinga t 11 p.m. A big roar went up - look at us, we're in the whole street - and it looked pretty sweet to see the whole bridge filled with mellow Dave-buzzed folks. Some residents lined the street outside their homes like a parade, and the Atlantic City laundromat tried to sell drinks (a little colder might have helped). The locals were amused to see the nitrous tanks and balloon and all the sucking of nitrous oxide. Police, meanwhile, were seizing the tanks, they reported this morning. Ah, music. Some people were like, "Where's the Ramada, please?" (Not the way you're going), and another said, "Oh, there's the Knife and Spoon, we turn there.") Alright, welcome to the beach.
As for Dave himself, he put on a nice show, though I'm not the biggest Dave-vibe-getter. But friends of mine seemed to be having an excellent time. I did like his solo strumming Whiter Shade of Pale toward the end of show, very pretty. Inquirer music critic has the set list and more here. And I can't thank Dave enough for curating a fantastic festival and for taking a chance on old Bader. In return, I think Atlantic City gave him a pretty nice sunset to kick off his set.
Here's a shot of the Boardwalk Stage with DMB performing.