Dave Matthews Band Marks 33rd Anniversary of Debut Performance

By Stu Kelly / March 14, 2024

Today commemorates a pivotal moment in music history as fans celebrate the 33rd anniversary of Dave Matthews Band‘s inaugural live performance. The band, consisting of Dave Matthews, Carter Beauford, Stefan Lessard, and Leroi Moore, took to the stage at Trax in Charlottesville, Virginia, on March 14, 1991, igniting a journey that would carve out a legendary career in the realm of rock and jazz.

The significance of this milestone was further highlighted in 2016 when DMB released audio recordings from their historic debut, allowing fans to relive the magic of that night. The performance, part of a benefit concert for the Middle East Children’s Alliance, marked the band’s first step into the spotlight and showcased their early commitment to philanthropy and social causes.

In 2010, bassist Stefan Lessard unearthed a precious artifact from his archives – a cassette tape containing the recording of the band’s maiden voyage at Trax. This discovery sheds new light on the band’s humble beginnings and is a testament to their enduring legacy. Some sources cite Charlottesville’s Earth Day Festival in 1991 as the band’s first public performance, but the unearthed tape recording points to March 14, 1991.

During their debut performance, Dave Matthews Band treated the audience to a selection of songs that would soon become staples in their repertoire. Tracks such as “Typical Situation,” “The Best Of What’s Around,” “I’ll Back You Up,” “The Song That Jane Likes,” “Warehouse,” and “Cry Freedom” resonated with concert-goers, laying the groundwork for the sonic landscape that DMB would later explore and define.

Following their debut, the lineup solidified with the addition of keyboardist Peter Griesar and fiddle player Boyd Tinsley, further enriching the band’s sound and dynamics. Although Grieser departed from the group in March 1993, the core quartet of Matthews, Beauford, Lessard, and Moore continued to captivate audiences along with Tinsley, infusing their unique blend of jazz, rock, and folk influences.

The significance of Trax in Charlottesville transcends merely being a venue; it serves as a symbol of the band’s roots and a source of inspiration. It’s fitting that this location inspired the namesake of the band’s official live releases in the “Live Trax” series, which continues to preserve and showcase the magic of Dave Matthews Band’s live performances for fans worldwide.

As fans reflect on the journey that began 33 years ago today, one thing remains certain: Dave Matthews Band’s debut performance at Trax marked the dawn of a musical phenomenon that would leave an indelible mark on the industry and the hearts of millions of fans worldwide.

Check out the official release of “Recently” from the band’s first show below. 

Setlist: 

  • Typical Situation 
  • The Best of What’s Around
  • I’ll Back You Up 
  • The Song That Jane Likes 
  • Warehouse
  • Cry Freedom
  • Recently

About the author

Stu Kelly