The lead to this morning’s The Morning newsletter from the Times could have been written by me. Like the writer, Melissa Kirsch,* I managed to go from 1990 to 1994 at UVA without ever seeing a Dave Matthews show (though I did see Boyd Tinsley perform in more avant-garde groups, notably with the late Greg Howard, in venues so small that you would end up at the next urinal over from him during the break). But it took me until “Under the Table and Dreaming” to develop an appreciation for him, at which point there was no way of seeing him in at tiny venues. I too feel like I missed out on an opportunity, even if the jam band culture that came from the DMB and its peers is assuredly not my kettle of fish.
I don’t know that indie (or “alternative,” or “college”) rock snobbery played any big role in my not going to DMB shows. If I’m honest, it was probably social snobbery—I was very self-consciously aware of my status as a non-fraternity member, to the extent that I never went to a Greek party in my four years there, and it seemed like a lot of fraternity guys went to those shows. Not my scene, I thought.
How foolish I was. If I’ve learned anything since then, it’s that life is too short to not take opportunities to do something simply because of who else is doing it. And I was in a fraternity, of sorts; we jokingly called the Virginia Glee Club a “fraternity of talent,” and our parties were probably not that different from what was happening on Rugby Road (maybe a little quieter).
* Footnote: Melissa started a couple years after me and we ended up in the same poetry class together in my fourth year. She was published in the literary mag I started, Rag & Bone, in the spring 1994 issue.