[9/4/21] Dave Matthews Bankicked off its customary Labor Day Weekend run at The Gorge on Friday with a never-before-seen lineup after drummer Carter Beauford and bassist Stefan Lessard were exposed to COVID-19.

As the band’s somewhat mysterious statement to fans on Friday afternoon noted, “Despite thorough safety protocols, a potential exposure to the Covid-19 virus within the organization has taken place. In the best interest of everyone’s health and safety, Dave Matthews Band will perform this weekend’s shows in an alternate format. We love playing the Gorge and are grateful to all of you who are joining us this weekend.”

“This will definitely be one-of-a-kind,” Dave Matthews joked as he kicked off the set by his lonesome with “Grey Street”, “Ants Marching”, and “Virginia In The Rain”.

Dave Matthews – “Grey Street” – 9/3/21

[Video: Mitch Wight]

Next, guitarist Tim Reynolds joined in for a run of duets with Dave on “Bartender”, “Two Step”, “Lie In Our Graves”, and “Crush”. Continuing to gradually build out the lineup, Dave then welcomed saxophonist Jeff Coffin, trumpeter Rashawn Ross, and keyboardist Buddy Strong for five-piece runs through “Warehouse”, “What Would You Say”, “Everyday”, and “Tripping Billies”.

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds – “Two Step” – 9/3/21

[Video: Mitch Wight]

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds – “Bartender” – 9/3/21

[Video: Mitch Wight]

Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds, Jeff Coffin, Rashawn Ross, Buddy Strong – “Warehouse” – 9/3/21

[Video: Dave]

Dumpstaphunk, who had served as the evening’s opening act, also lent a hand with the off-the-cuff, rotating Dave Matthews Band set. First, bassist Tony Hall jumped in with the ever-growing ensemble to reprise his former Dave Matthews & Friends role on bass for a number of Some Devil tunes they played on that tour including “Save Me”, “Gravedigger”, “Stay or Leave”, and “So Damn Lucky”. Hall also joined in for a rendition Daniel Lanois‘ “The Maker”, on which he recorded multiple overdubbed bass parts for the original Lanois studio version.

Next, Ivan Neville and the rest of the gang joined in on Sly & The Family Stone‘s “Thank You” and set-closing version of Peter Gabriel‘s “Sledgehammer”, including horn players Alex Wasily and Ashlin Parker as well as Deven Trusclair manning the empty drum throne.

Dave Matthews Band w/ Dumpstaphunk – “Thank You” (Sly & The Family Stone) – 9/3/21

[Video: Mitch Wight]

Following an encore break, Dave Matthews emerged solo once again for “Singing From The Windows” before bringing Reynolds back out for a show-closing “Dancing Nancies”.

Setlist: Dave Matthews Band | The Gorge | George, WA | 9/3/21 

Set: Grey Street, Ants Marching, Virginia In The Rain, Bartender, Two Step, Lie In Our Graves, Crush, Warehouse, What Would You Say, Everyday, Tripping Billies, The Maker (Daniel Lanois), Save Me, Gravedigger, Stay or Leave, So Damn Lucky > Thank You (Sly & The Family Stone), Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel)

Encore: Singing From The Windows, Dancing Nancies

[UPDATE 9/7/21]: The “alternate format” festivities continued on Saturday and Sunday as Dave Matthews and company made the “best of what’s around”  both literally and figuratively, employing the help of the weekend’s supporting acts to cobble together two more off-the-cuff, rotating-lineup shows.

On Saturday night, following an opening set by Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Matthews once again opened his set solo with an appropriate “Best of What’s Around”. He continued from there with “Rye Whiskey”, “Mercy” and a haunting cover of Neil Young‘s “The Needle and the Damage Done” (“He’s too good to be true, and he don’t take s— from nobody,” Matthews said of Young).

Dave Matthews – “The Needle and the Damage Done” (Neil Young) – 9/4/21

[Video: Mitch Wight]

Dave & Tim time was up next as the duo worked through “Don’t Drink the Water”, “Samurai Cop”, “The Stone”, and “Corn Bread”. Buddy Strong jumped in next for “Grace Is Gone”, and Jeff and Rashawn took the stage for “Proudest Monkey” and “Satellite”.

Dumpstaphunk/Dave & Friends bassist Tony Hall, who had stuck around from the previous night, and Buddy Strong’s keyboard tech, Elijah Pigg, joined the lineup next as Strong shifted over to the drums for “You Might Die Trying”, “Lying In The Hands of God”, “Crash Into Me”, “Crash Into Me, “#41”, and the first-ever DMB rendition of The Beatles‘ “Come Together” featuring some searing solos from Reynolds.

Dave Matthews Band ft. Tony Hall, Elijah Pigg – “Come Together” (The Beatles) – 9/4/21

[Video: Mitch Wight]

Next, Robert Randolph joined in to add his pedal steel prowess to “Louisiana Bayou” before welcoming out the rest of the Family Band to help close the set with another DMB cover debut (and the second Sly song of the weekend), Sly & The Family Stone’s “I Want To Take You Higher”. Dave and Tim finally returned to the stage for encore takes on “Oh” and “All Along The Watchtower” to wrap up night two of the impromptu Dave Matthews & Friends weekend at The Gorge.

Dave Matthews Band w/ Robert Randolph & The Family Band – “I Want To Take You Higher” (Sly & The Family Stone) – 9/4/21

[Video: Mitch Wight]

Setlist: Dave Matthews Band | The Gorge | George, WA | 9/5/21 

Set: The Best of What’s Around, Rye Whiskey, Mercy, The Needle and the Damage Done (Neil Young), Don’t Drink the Water, Samurai Cop, The Stone, Corn Bread, Grace Is Gone, Proudest Monkey > Satellite, You Might Die Trying, Lying in the Hands of God, Crash Into Me, #41, Come Together, Louisiana Bayou, I Want To Take You Higher (Sly & The Family Stone)

Encore: Oh, All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan)

With one more show to go, the makeshift DMB lineup returned to The Gorge stage on Sunday to wrap up the weekend. The legendary Mavis Staples opened the night with a soul-stirring performance.

Dave once again kicked off the headlining set with a few solo tunes including “The Song That Jane Likes” and “You Never Know” as well as the first 2021 renditions of John Denver‘s “Take Me To Tomorrow”, “Here On Out”, and Willie Nelson‘s “Ain’t It Funny How Time Slips Away”.

Tim Reynolds got involved next for “Minarets”, the tour’s first “Old Dirt Hill”, “When The World Ends”, the tour debut of “Christmas Song”, and well-received “So Much To Say” > “Too Much”.

Newer tune “The Ocean and the Butterfly” and “Funny The Way It Is” brought Buddy, Jeff, and Rashawn in from the bullpen before Tony Hall and Elijah Pigg stepped in and Buddy Strong shifted to drums once again for “Pig” as well as tour debuts of “That Girl Is You”, “#27”, and another former Dave & Friends favorite, The Beatles’ “Hey Bulldog”.

Dave Matthews Band w/ Tony Hall, Elijah Pigg – “Hey Bulldog” (The Beatles) – 9/6/21

[Video: Mitch Wight]

The combo lineup remained onstage to work through “Can’t Stop”. After a “Brown Sugar”/”Bitch” interlude, Mavis Staples graced the stage to trade vocals with Matthews on The Rolling Stones‘ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”.

Dave Matthews Band w/ Mavis Staples, Tony Hall, Elijah Pigg – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (The Rolling Stones) – 9/5/21

[Video: Mitch Wight]


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Next, Tony Hall led the band through the final Sly & The Family Stone cover of the weekend, “If You Want Me to Stay”, before Dave & Co. put an emphatic cap on the Sunday set by welcoming Robert Randolph to the stage for a rare rendition of Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition”.

Dave Matthews Band w/ Robert Randolph, Tony Hall, Elijah Pigg – “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) – 9/5/21

[Video: Mitch Wight]

With time for just a couple more songs, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds returned to close the “making lemonade”-themed 2021 Gorge run with encore renditions of “Sister” and “Jimi Thing”.

Dave Matthews Band tour is set to continue on Wednesday, 9/8 Bend, OR. While the band has not yet given word on which players may or may not be active, if the Gorge run is any indication, fans can rest assured that the band will have a plan for whatever contingencies arise. For a full list of upcoming tour dates, head here.

Setlist: Dave Matthews Band | The Gorge | George, WA | 9/5/21

Set: Take Me To Tomorrow (John Denver), The Song That Jane Likes, Here On Out, You Never Know, Ain’t It Funny How Time Slips Away (Willie Nelson), Minarets, Old Dirt Hill, When the World Ends, Christmas Song, So Much To Say > Too Much, Ocean and the Butterfly, Funny The Way It Is, That Girl Is You, Pig, #27, Hey Bulldog (The Beatles), Can’t Stop, Brown Sugar (tease), Bitch (tease), (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (The Rolling Stones), If You Want Me To Stay, Superstition (Stevie Wonder)

Encore: Sister, Jimi Thing