The Dave Matthews Band is on tour, as they have been every summer, except 2020, for the past 30-odd years. Like the Grateful Dead and Phish, so-called jam bands with which it’s often lumped together, Dave Matthews has a deliriously passionate fan base that follows the band from city to city, reuniting with fellow disciples at preshow tailgates, showing off devotional tattoos, trading live recordings.
In the early ’90s, when I arrived for my first year at the University of Virginia, Dave Matthews was a local celebrity. His band played for five bucks every Tuesday night at the little bar down the street from campus. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I never went to see them.
It would be years before the stereotype of Dave Matthews fans as “pot-smoking, tie-dye-touting former frat bros fawning over craft beers in parking lots between cornhole games,” as Perri Ormont Blumberg puts it, would become a widely understood social designation. But for those of us figuring out how to reconcile the rise of grunge with our carefully curated Manic Panic-dyed identities, a college bar band with a fiddle player was way too mainstream.
“You’re sort of defined as much by what you dislike as by what you like at that age,” Ben Sisario, a music reporter at The Times and one of my first college friends, said recently. Ben and I met on our first night at Virginia. He was wearing a T-shirt from the 1992 tour of the alt-rock band the Pixies; our friendship was cemented in the uncomplicated way of teenagers for whom there’s little distinction between who you listen to and who you are. We spent the next four years not going to Dave Matthews Band shows together.
When I read about the community that flourishes via shared adoration of the Dave Matthews Band, I feel — not left out, exactly — but instead like I missed an opportunity. I could have participated in the early fandom of a band that would become an American institution. I could have “been there when” rather than having “been there on the sidelines with my arms folded smugly when.”
In adulthood, in theory, we get more comfortable with our contradictions. We can emphatically like things that others — or even we — deem uncool without risking an identity crisis. Ben has seen Dave Matthews perform several times since college and has come to appreciate the complexity of their music. “I was just too clouded with the teenage factionalism of being a first year in college to see that,” he said, adding, “My persona at the time was very much ‘indie rock snob.’”
Ben and I became friends because of our indie rock snob personas, which makes it hard for me to totally dismiss my youthful disdain for popular music as useless. I’m grateful for the taste I developed as a teenager that helped me find my people, taste that’s become more complex. Now, I listen to the 1994 Dave Matthews Band album “Under the Table and Dreaming” and am overcome with nostalgic pleasure. And when Dave sings on the first track, “If you hold on tight to what you think is your thing, you may find you’re missing all the rest,” I know categorically that he’s right.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
The new charges against Donald Trump are clearer examples of potential obstruction of justice than Trump’s earlier behavior that the Mueller investigation scrutinized.
Trump attacked Ron DeSantis as an “establishment globalist” at a dinner in Iowa that both men attended.
Russia said it shot down two missiles within its borders, apparently rare instances of Ukraine using such weapons to attack inside Russia.
President Biden approved the most significant changes in decades to the military legal system, including steps to ensure that sex assault prosecutions are independent of the chain of command.
Biden acknowledged his 4-year-old granddaughter, Navy, for the first time publicly. Hunter Biden, the girl’s father, has said he is not involved in her life.
Lebanon’s yearslong financial crisis has forced some people to hold up banks to take out their own deposits.
📺 “Hijack” (Wednesday): Yes, it’s been a bad summer for air travel, but no one has had it worse than the passengers of Kingdom Airline flight 29, which is hijacked shortly after taking off from Dubai on its way to London. The seventh episode of this overheated and entertaining Apple TV+ show, starring Idris Elba, is the Season 1 finale.
📚 “Tom Lake” (Tuesday): In the latest by Ann Patchett, whose 2019 novel “The Dutch House” was a Pulitzer finalist, family members find themselves holed up at their Michigan cherry farm early in the pandemic. There, they hear the story of their mother’s youthful affair with a famous actor during a production of “Our Town.” Patchett’s is one of several books to look forward to in August.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Blackberry Corn Cobbler
A juicy berry cobbler is a laid-back weekend treat, an adaptable, colorful way to showcase seasonal fruit. This one, from Jerrelle Guy, is especially vivid, with blackberries that cook down into a jammy purple compote that bubbles around a cornmeal topping. To make it even more summery, Jerrelle grates fresh corn cobs, collecting the kernels and corn milk, to knead into the biscuits instead of the usual buttermilk or heavy cream. It adds a lovely, sweet character to every bite. If you can, serve this warm with scoops of ice cream or coconut yogurt, letting them melt into a creamy sauce to mingle with the berry syrup.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
Phone took a dip? Skip the rice.
This time of year, your everyday tech may be sitting dangerously close to a pool or lake, putting it at risk of an accidental soaking. You may have heard that if your iPhone gets waterlogged, you should submerge it in dry rice. Don’t. Instead, Wirecutter’s tech experts advise sticking it in a plastic bag stuffed with silica gel packets, which you can buy in bulk online. While the old bag-of-rice trick can dry out your tech, the grains can introduce mold, corrosion or other irreparable damage and may even worsen the problem. — Rose Maura Lorre
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GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Brazil vs. France, Women’s World Cup: Brazil is desperate to win a trophy for Marta, one of the game’s great stars, who at age 37 is playing in probably her final World Cup. And the team looks sharp. (Watch this incredible goal against Panama.) France’s squad is talented, but has had a bumpy path. The team recently replaced its head coach to appease players who had threatened to sit out the World Cup, then lost a veteran midfielder to injury. “France’s hopes, now, rest on the new coach’s being able to get the best out of a team he has only just encountered,” The Times’s Rory Smith wrote. Re-airing at 10:30 a.m. Eastern on FS2.