If you know me at all you know I pretty much live to go to a DMB Concert.
I spend most of my time doing a few things: waiting for the day the tour gets announced, buying the tickets the day they go on sale, and booking travel plans for the shows. Then there is the day of the concert, which I have lovingly dubbed Dave Day. I pretty much live for that day! So to say that I was excited for this DMB 2016 concert year, was an understatement.
I have had a love affair with the band and Dave for over 15 years.
As a Dave fan, you pretty much live to go to certain venues. Even though every concert is great there are certain venues that over the last 25 years the band seems to enjoy more. At those locations there are normally 2 to 3 nights worth of shows. Ants (that’s what they call us, it’s from “Ants Marching”) from all over go to SPAC, ALPINE, Noblesville, and The Gorge. I would love to say that with over 30 Dave Matthews Band concerts under my belt that I am a pro, but sadly my 30 plus shows only get me to about a mid level fanship. I have meet people at the concerts that were celebrating their 100th plus show. WOW!!! I have people ask me how many shows I have been to when I tell them over 30 they always say you should meet the band. Umm yes, that would be a dream but with so many diehard fans it is difficult to stand out in the crowd.
In 2010 I traveled to Seattle to visit my Aunt and Uncle, they surprised me with tickets to see DMB at The Gorge Night 2. That experience left me craving more, it was a venue like I had never experienced before. The concert was out of this world! I wanted to go back every Labor Day since. For the last six years I would sit on my couch Labor Day weekend wishing that I was at the Gorge.
2016 was going to be my year!
The band is taking 2017 off so I knew that I needed to see as many shows as I could. Not sure what I am to do with myself next year….
My bestie, Jennifer, and I always go to Dave together. In fact Rafa and I have been together for over 10 years and this Labor Day weekend were to be our first DMB concerts of our relationship. It was always Jennifer and Molly “thing” that we would plan out our shows, book our hotels, and have a girl’s get away.
This year she and her husband were on board to go with us, but a lot of life happened to Jennifer from February when we bought the tickets so, Rafa and I were on our own.
Rafa was excited but hadn’t ever been to a three day concert series of any bands, let alone one band, so you can image his questions. Are they going to play the same songs? What is The Gorge like? How far was our hotel to the venue?
We made the beautiful 3-hour drive from Seattle to Wenatchee, Apple capital of the world. We checked into our Super 8 hotel. Jennifer booked this hotel when she and her husband were going with us. I never thought about changing accommodations until it was too late.
A Few pointers: if you are going to go to The Gorge for a festival or a DMB show and you aren’t camping like us, then you need to book your hotel ASAP. When we went to change hotels we could get one night at the Springhill Suites by Marriott, or one night at a different hotel but not 3 nights together so we stayed at the Super 8. It was nothing fancy. The hotel was clean, very out dated, but it worked, and you aren’t in the hotel room that much.
The closest town to The Gorge was Quincy but from what I saw of that town it is super small and the hotels were mostly road motels. This would work, but the town of Wenatchee was very cute, there was a nice Main Street, and on the newer side of town they had a shopping mall and restaurants, if that is something you are looking for. We really just woke up, got ready, stopped by the Wal-Mart for whatever we needed for the day, went to lunch, and then went to the Gorge.
If you haven’t heard of the Gorge, it is Number 2 on Fodor’s list of best outdoor amphitheater’s in the US http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/10-best-outdoor-music-venues-in-the-us. The Wall Street Journal called it one of the best outdoor amphitheaters in the world.
The Gorge is situated near the Columbia River, surrounded by winery’s, apple orchards, farms, and in the middle of no where. When you are driving to the Gorge you feel like you are in the middle of the country. There are a few homes peppered throughout. You get the feeling you might have made a wrong turn somewhere about that time you will see a sign that will say Gorge Amphitheater 5 miles ahead.
When you pull into park there are thousands upon thousands of cars, trucks, trailers, RV’s; you name it you will see it. Firedancer (DMB logo, if you will) flags fly in the breeze and about that time is when I sighed a deep breath of relief and excitement. In the vast sea of green grass there were my people. Fellow DAVE fans all here for the same reason as me, to have a great time, get away from the world, lose yourself in the comradery and peacefulness of the surroundings.
Many times in KC when you go to a concert there, are a lot of true DMB fans, but there are more people there that just bought tickets to go do something. They are on dates, or catching up with friends. That is all good but I hate it when people are talking during the show. I wait for months to see the band and I want to have a good time, I don’t want to talk about my day or listen about someone else’s. I want to listen to the music.
At The Gorge the parking lot is perfect for tailgating and getting all the talking outta of ya. Many people played football or corn hole. Some had made up games they were trying out.
Rafa and I got to the venue each night and met some really awesome people. The first night we parked next to a couple from California and it turned out they were staying at our hotel. One thing about DMB shows are the fans; there is a sense of family, and everyone is there to have a great time. We met several people each night that were there by themselves and it didn’t seem to matter at all. So if you are tempted to go to a DMB show alone, just do it.
When you walk from the parking lot to the entrance of The Gorge; you start to see the valley, the river, and the mountains. Once in the venue, you will walk up the hill and it is then when you get to the top that you are in one of the most beautiful concert venues anywhere. It is so beautiful and at night when the sun would go down, breathtaking. They were some of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen. Rafael has been to Red Rocks but didn’t think it compared to the breathtaking views of The Gorge. It can get super windy, it was Friday night but it was still beautiful weather and the concert was amazing!
Being in lawn Saturday night was fine, everyone around us was chilled and the sound of the concert was great. The Gorge website says it seats around 20,000 and I can tell you that on Saturday night there was more then 20,000 people there. The lawn was packed! The lawn can be super steep in certain places so beware. We bought a cheap blanket at Wal-Mart and I also bought a plastic painters tarp, which I paper clipped to the bottom of the blanket. That worked great and prevented getting grass everywhere. It came in very handy.
Sunday night we had the best seats of the 3 nights we were surrounded by awesome people. One guy 3 people down from us had a rubber mat that he brought to stand on. I thought was a genius idea! I dance the whole show so by the end of the night my feet are killing me. You do have to lug that thing around which isn’t that big of a deal but I thought it was a good idea.
TIP: take a fanny pack! I took a fanny pack to the show every night. I think you could call them a ladies waist purse if it makes you feel better but let me tell you ladies, I love my fanny pack. I had my hands and arms free for dancing. There is never a good place to put my purse, and then you have to worry about it if you do set it down. I didn’t want to take a backpack the nights we had seats so we only took the backpack to night 2 but I still wore my fanny pack.
In my fanny pack I put my flashlight, which is on my list of things I think everyone should have at The Gorge. It is really dark walking to your car or back to your campsite, the flashlights helped a ton. The Honeybuckets (porta potties) as they are called are great, but they don’t have lights in them, so again the flashlights were helpful. I also packed Wet Wipes, and hand sanitizer, the lines to wash your hands take up a lot of concert time, the hand sanitizer isn’t ideal but it gets you by when Dave starts playing your song.
The Gorge lets you bring in your own water bottles but if they have caps on them they make you take them off, so I always travel with extra water bottle lids. Security never checks for those. The one thing that I didn’t know to bring was a wine cork or lid for the wine, they had a decent wine booth that we stopped at each night, they gave you the wine in a plastic wine carafe that they had a lid on the first night which was perfect. The second night when we were in lawn they had ran out of the lids and we had the misfortune of having not one but two people kick over our very over priced wine. I ended up pouring out my water and putting the wine in my reusable water bottle with a lid, it wasn’t classy, but it worked.
We were flying out on Monday morning so after the concert on Sunday night we drove straight back to Seattle. Not for the faint of heart, it is a long drive and at 2 in the morning. You start really questioning your judgment, and what were you thinking booking a morning flight. All in all it was an amazing vacation. Rafa and I unplugged and tuned in and it was worth it. If you ever have the chance to go to The Gorge, do it! You will be happy you did.
Oh, and I now have tickets to Dave and Tim on the beach in Mexico so my 2017 is looking up:).