154 Lakeside Love: Dave Matthews Band Caravan Coverage

Dave Performs Live At Lakeside (photo Nate Azark/WXRT)

[photogallerylink id=87260 align=left]When Dave Matthews announced in April that the band would be staging their DMB Caravan at Chicago’s Lakeside, no one knew the site of the former US Steel South Works was a music venue. It wasn’t, not yet. Once the dirt and rubble field filled with wood-chips, the stages stood sturdy, the speakers hung ready, the venders’ staked their tents, and the box office opened, Lakeside was ready for three days of musical festivities.

The Caravan boasted three stages (Slip, Lakeside, South Works) named not after sponsors, but for the city who hosted them. Across three days, those three stages saw many familiar faces and heard many familiar sounds from XRT’s library. Situated behind the South Works main-stage, XRT caught the backstage scoop from the Caravan’s side-stage acts, main-stage openers, and from Dave himself.

[photogallerylink id=87346 align=left]Marty Lennartz kicked off the weekend coverage with jazz-, folk-, and blues-infused singer-songwriter Amos Lee before his live set. Watch as the former schoolteacher talks with Marty about performing at the White House, playing in hospitals, and his latest disc Mission Bell. Patterson Hood of the Drive By Truckers also stopped by before their set to sit for a quick chat about their latest album Go-Go Boots and the Caravan festival.

[photogallerylink id=87452 align=left]Immediately following the final chord of his set, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ Alex Ebert walked off stage, and right into XRT’s tent where he kicked his feet up and made himself comfortable talking about consistant tours and “living, breathing, and eating music” in a conversation with Marty. Sandwiched between Edward Sharpe and Dave Matthews Band’s headlining set sat Ray Lamontagne, but he wasn’t sitting still. Shaking things down, Lamontagne and his band cut into a deep groove on “Repo Man” that left the crowd excited for the energy that would follow in DMB’s closing set.

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[photogallerylink id=87515 align=left]The Caravan’s energy remained high throughout the weekend, and Sunday offered a worthy conclusion both onstage and off. Lin Brehmer fulfilled a lifelong dream when he was able to talk with one of his heroes, Emmylou Harris. He wasn’t the only one, Dave Matthews personally introduced her onstage as one his own heroes. Fresh off the release of their seventh studio album, Gomez performed simultaneously as Harris, across the park on the South Works stage (catch a free mp3 from them today only). When Gomez had taken their bow, the mic was open for British, pop veteran David Gray, who visited with Marty on his way to the stage to talk about recent performances, new recordings, and the festival.

After David Gray, The Flaming Lips, performing on the Lakeside Stage, worked their way through Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, complete with their unique brand of oddities adorning the stage and air. Lead-singer Wayne Coyne took a minute before starting his set to reminisce over The Lips’ past Chicago shows with Marty and our camera.

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[photogallerylink id=87583 align=left]Like the festival, our coverage would not be complete with the man behind the curtain (or in this case, the one also taking center stage). Dave found time to explain the motivation behind the Caravan festival series, recall his performances at Wrigley last year, and talk about upcoming tour plans. Playing all three nights, Dave Matthews Band performed a total of 61 songs, a different set-list each night. Known for their ability to cover a diverse selection of hits, DMB didn’t disappoint with their rendition of Talking Head’s “Burning Down the House,” and Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times”.

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[photogallerylink id=87408 align=left]Not the typical festival venue, Lakeside did provided some challenges and disappointments for concertgoers. The South Side grounds sit three miles from the nearest Red Line subway stop, and crowded shuttle buses felt the brunt of July’s heat. The promised panoramic view of the lake and downtown Chicago was masked by tall chain-link fences and the festival’s own stages. Despite the ride and the view, the festival provided an energetic experience hindered only in comfort by the rock and wood-chip littered ground that tested the courage of every sandaled foot. As the sun set, illuminated balloons floated up around a rustic, antique ferris wheel in the center of the park. Some concertgoers installed impromptu hammocks to enjoy the musical acts from a relaxing distance. Whether or not the Caravan returns to Lakeside, it’s safe to say that it was an adequate alternative to the band’s typical auditorium-styled summer tour.

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