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Culture, Music

Remember Dave Matthews?

by Stanley Zive / 13.06.2013

A post-millennium Bon Jovi. A John Frusciante-less Red Hot Chili Peppers. And now Dave Matthews.

It seems despite our best efforts these bloated, obsolescent bands keep invading our shores to peddle their bloated, obsolescent wares. The Mahalaverse is full to bursting with vitriol for these “irrelevant” acts. We write and we write yet they continue to come and play to packed houses. Perhaps it’s the articles that are irrelevant? And you’re four lines into another one. If you can’t see the beauty in that kind of irony then you’re just not trying. If you can, well, then you probably own too many Smiths albums.

Is there any merit in these articles or are they just another hand in the circle jerk? I know Dave Matthews doesn’t care about this article but should you? Of course you should! Come, I’ll show you. Sit tight, kids. It’s about to get tangential up in here…

I don’t dislike Chelsea Football Club. However some of their fans leave me nauseous. A brief history lesson for those of you not into sports: Chelsea is a small west London club with little to no pedigree. Ten years ago they were bought by a Russian billionaire, they spent like mad, they won some trophies. My nephew is a Chelsea fan. My nephew is also fourteen so that makes sense. But if you meet someone past the age of majority who claims they love football and they support Chelsea then ask yourself the following questions: 1) Did they grow up a stone’s throw from Harrod’s or 2) Is there dad a Chelsea fan? If the answer isn’t “yes” to either then just walk away.

These glory supporters will tell you how much they know about the beautiful game and regale you with tales of how their blood runs Chelsea blue. Talk is cheap. If the Ruski pulls out or they flirt with relegation these fair-weather fans will bolt like rats off a sinking ship.

Why does any of this matter? Football is a mere triviality, isn’t it? Perhaps, but think about this if you’re married to a Chelsea fan. When the honeymoon phase is over and you’re struggling to lose the baby weight from your second child do you really want a man who doesn’t know who Kerry Dixon is?

People express a passion for music with a similar fervour. And, similarly, they call themselves fans without ever thinking further than their nose about music. Or anything. I don’t hate Dave Matthews. I think he’s decent enough and didn’t mind his earlier work. Then the nineties ended and I got over it. What really grinds my gears is the concert going public. I can picture it now. There I am seated at some dinner party while a well-meaning couple with too much wheatgrass in their diet strike up a conversation with me about the Dave Matthews concert. They’ve already bought their tickets. Why am I not going? Don’t I think it’ll be good? And there I am feigning interest, trying not to offend these cretins while my girlfriend kicks me under the table every time someone utters the phrase, “he’s such a talented musician”. The Cape Town Philharmonic is full of talented musicians; when last did you go see them?

If you have all of the DMB’s albums and you know all the words then go to the concert with my blessing. I’m sure you and the nine other people like you will enjoy it thoroughly. But let’s be honest, there’ll be more than a few of you just looking for a night out. A concert is an event. At least that might’ve been true twenty years ago as we crawled out of our cultural exile, but now? An international act playing in a post-’94 South Africa should be less about symbolizing our fledgling democracy and more about the music as time goes by. If South Africans have truly become worldlier then why are we still queuing round the block for Burger King? It’s only a hamburger, people! And that’s what a concert for concert’s sake is. It’s queuing for junk food for the soul. And these concert gluttons are your friends and neighbours. Think about that for a second. These same people making such poor life choices are the same people educating your children, looking after your retirement fund, and voting for your elected officials.

So that is why you’ll find writers getting peeved that Bryan Adams has been here a half dozen times but they’re unlikely to see Ryan Adams. That’s why a precious few are vexed that Cape Town has been named the 2014 Design Capital and yet we see such stiff conservatism in prevailing tastes. Pop culture is a reflection of who we are as a society. Art permeates everything. It’s what separates being alive from merely existing. If we are to push on as a people we need to live consciously. Just because Big Concerts have led us to the water we don’t have to drink it. Stop. Think. Do I feel anything for this music? Can I find a better way to spend the time and money? Do I know more than three songs? Can I name one member of the band who isn’t Dave Matthews? Where was this guy for the last twenty years when everyone else was coming, especially with his South African ties? If you can do this hopefully the rest of your life won’t be just a series of knee-jerk reactions.

And, for the record, I’m an Everton fan.

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