Dave Matthews Explains Why He Introduces and Watches His Opening Acts

"You knew that your fan base would come from their tailgate parties outside to watch you watch us," said Questlove

Photo: Chris Bubinas

BY Alex HudsonPublished Sep 5, 2023

Being an opening act can be a bit of a thankless task, but — much like Big Thief requesting crowds to stop talkingDave Matthews goes to the next level to ensure that his audience is courteous to the opener. The songwriter has explained his practice of introducing the opening act at Dave Matthews Band shows and then watching the entire set from the stage.

Appearing on the July 26 episode of the podcast Questlove Supreme, Questlove recalled a time the Roots played as DMB's opening act in 2000. The drummer marvelled at the way Matthews would introduce them before their set.

"It was as if the audience knows that you do that," Questlove recalled, "because, instantly, like within 10 seconds, that shit went to like 14,000 people. Whoosh! You not only introduced us, but then you stood on stage and watched us, because you knew that your fan base would come from their tailgate parties outside to watch you watch us."

Matthews explained that the idea came from the time DMB supported Blues Traveller, and he was incessantly heckled by fans of the headliners.

"I wanted to say: 'They [Blues Traveller] invited us to come play in between their fucking set, you asshole,'" Matthews said about the rude fans. "The motivation was just that I was really excited that you guys were starting the show. I wanted to make sure that [it went well] — it's the whole show. That's how I felt about it. It was selfish."

Listen to the episode below. The discussion of Matthews's practice of introducing openers starts around the 80-minute mark.

Matthews hasn't needed to introduce his opening acts in recent years, since Dave Matthews Band have mostly been touring without an opener. They didn't have one for their 2023 tour for the release of Walk Around the Moon.

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