A general-admission show at Intrust Bank Arena is a different experience. The floor doesn't have any chairs. Or any personal space. Or any ushers asking people to sit down so that the sitters behind them won't be inconvenienced, as has happened at so many Elton John/Billy Joel and Eagles shows.
Instead, it's a crush of humanity trying to get as close as possible to the band on stage, in Saturday night's case the Dave Matthews Band, which performed in front of 10,000 fans inside as a summertime storm broke the heat outdoors.
Dave Matthews Band, or DMB as it's known to hardcore fans, is one of those mellow rock groups that collect a following of fans who track them around the country, going show to show.
Led by its scruffy, charismatic lead singer Dave Matthews, the group is known for hitting the road over the summer. Wichitans got a chance on Saturday to catch the group in its summer element before a much-publicized yearlong break the band has planned for 2011 after a nearly 20-year string of touring.
The show was short on radio hits but long on the famous improvisational musical interludes (some clocked in at more than 10 minutes) —laced with saxophone, drum, violin and guitar solos and Matthews' signature twisty-heeled footwork.
But casual fans would have recognized a few songs, including "Crush," which featured a well-received violin solo from recognizable band member Boyd Tinsley. (Tinsley's solos were a frequent occurrence during the set, and a highlight.)
The band took the stage with "Minarets," a fast-paced song off its 1993 album "Remember Two Things." Matthews, dressed in a black shirt, black jeans and cowboy boots, wasn't too chatty from the microphone. But he did play a short riff from Soul Coughing's "True Dreams of Wichita" (twice), and he drew cheers from the head-bobbing crowd both times.
Among the other songs in the nearly three-hour set: "You Might Die Trying," "Stay or Leave," "The Best of What's Around, "Gravedigger," "Don't Drink the Water" and "Ants Marching."
The band played several songs from its most recent album, 2009's "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King," including "Seven," "Funny The Way It Is" and "Why I Am."
Missing from the Wichita show were the band's signature video screens, which usually play throughout DMB shows. A fan who follows the band said that the screens were waiting at Denver's Mile High Music Festival, where the band is scheduled to play today.
But Wichita fans didn't seem to notice the difference, even though to fans at the back of the arena, Matthews appeared as tiny as one of those "Ants Marching."