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Dave Matthews Band Delivers a Beautiful Night of Classics & Rarities in NJ

Pop Break Live: Dave Matthews Band at the PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ on June 29, 2022

Words + Photos: Kim Wessels

In 1996 my obsession with Dave Matthews Band began.

I saw my first Dave show at PNC Bank Arts Center (then the Garden State Arts Center) in Holmdel, New Jersey. This began an almost 30 year personal tour across the country to follow them almost every summer. It’s been a while since I’ve traveled to see them, but it’s fitting that I found myself back at the very same venue it started, 120 shows and 26 years later. Photo pass and camera in hand, I finally caught my white whale, the opportunity to photograph Dave Matthews Band, something I had been trying to do since I started shooting shows in 2010.

The weather was perfect, a typical early summer New Jersey evening, perfect outdoor amphitheater concert weather. The band hit the stage later than their usual 7:30-ish, which had been typical for this tour – mostly because fans were still tailgating and were late getting into the venue, in typical New Jersey fashion. What we didn’t know was that it was going to be well worth the wait.

I had originally called a “Seek Up” opener. We soon realized that Dave & Co. was about to collectively shock ALL of us by opening with “Shotgun,” which hasn’t been included on any studio album to date and first debuted live in 2006. It has since been played 52 times live, but never as an opener, proving just how special the night was about to get. “Seek Up” was next, so I wasn’t totally off, and couldn’t even be upset that they cut my typical 3 song shooting time down to two songs, when they threw down a 20 minute “Seek Up.”

The Dave Matthews Band went on to deliver a career-spanning mix of material at the New Jersey venue. The openers were followed by “When The World Ends” off 2001’s Everyday. Next came  “Do You Remember,” off the group’s most recent LP, 2018’s Come Tomorrow. The band followed suit with “Funny the Way It Is” and then “Walk Around The Moon” another new song which is still unreleased and made its debut last year during summer tour. 

The rest of the 20-song main set featured such classics as “41” and “Stay Or Leave” before Matthews and company offered the “So Much To Say” “Anyone Seen The Bridge” into “Too Much” pairing ahead of “You Never Know”.  The band next busted out a great version of “Break Free.” The song was written in 2006, and first appeared on the Live Trax Vol. 6 album. While it never made it onto an album, the song has long been a fan-favorite and was greeted wholeheartedly last night. Things got super funky with a “Sledgehammer” cover, which has been a popular recurrence this summer tour so far, but it was hands down one of the funkiest versions I’ve seen to date.  Next came staple “Madman’s Eyes,” a song unveiled last year that has been played 21 times so far since November of 2021 and is quickly becoming yet another fan favorite.

Closing out the set were some classics that I don’t think anyone will ever get tired of hearing live: “You and Me,” “Don’t Drink The Water,” “Jimi Thing” and “She” before capping out the full frame with “Stay” (Wasting Time). Dave returned solo for a “Some Devil” encore, just before bringing back the full band to give the crowd what they wanted, closing out the night with “Ants Marching.”

Anyone who knows me, knows how special this night was for me – so extremely personal – and I am absolutely humbled that I finally had the chance to live my dream, photographing a band that I have adored for almost half of my time on this planet. Their music has gotten me through some of my darkest days, simply by shining a small light and offering a glimmer of hope in the form of a song.

Those days are seemingly long behind me now, and it’s only recently that I finally feel like I have become the person I was always meant to be, literally being able to live a life beyond my wildest dreams, which is a privilege that I don’t take for granted. I had to stop myself from crying (okay, maybe sobbing) on multiple occasions throughout the evening, I was so overwhelmed by the thrill of it all, overtaken with gratitude and joy, experiencing something I had only ever dreamed of. Getting to experience it at my home venue, camera in hand, with 17,000 of my closest friends, not to mention my little brother who’s my permanent show buddy and best friend, is stuff that keeps me coming back for more.

I am forever changed.


Seek Up
When the World Ends
Do You Remember
Funny the Way It Is
Walk Around the Moon
Stay or Leave
So Much to Say
Anyone Seen the Bridge
Too Much
You Never Know
Break Free
Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel)
Madman’s Eyes
You & Me
Don’t Drink the Water
Jimi Thing
Stay (Wasting Time)

Some Devil
Ants Marching

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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