Back when people purchased their music in stores (and, thankfully, could not yet Twitter about it -- Just passed a hottie on the escalator at Virgin! ), a former boyfriend and I went CD shopping. I don't like shopping, especially on a Saturday when I could be watching college football, but that afternoon I practically skipped to the local record store, where he bought some obscure German CD that his hipster friends were raving about and I grabbed the latest album from my favorite group, the Dave Matthews Band.
"You're the weirdest gay," he muttered as I drove us home blasting DMB the whole way. "And what are you going to do now -- play beer pong with some frat boys?"
I just might, I told him, causing him to gasp in the same way he had when I'd announced earlier in the day that I would happily cheat on him if Dave Matthews ever wanted to, you know, "crash into me," to borrow the title of one of his most popular songs. Never mind that Dave wasn't my type (he was over 30 , for one) or that he was married -- to a woman. I had still fallen madly and unexpectedly in love with him five years before at Northwestern University when my fraternity brothers dragged me to one of his shows.
The brothers and I didn't share a musical aesthetic (they eagerly mocked my Tori Amos collection), but with the help of some unexpectedly stellar weed from New Jersey, we bonded that night over the jazzy, jam-band sound of Dave and his talented bandmates. I went out the next day and bought the group's CD, and I was one of the first in line to buy their latest, Big Whiskey & the Groogrux King , which came out this summer.
But Dave Matthews is best appreciated in concert, and I've appreciated him nearly 50 times, often dragging along my gay friends, who bitch and moan until they see thousands of hot guys (some accompanied by girlfriends, sadly) dancing to music that my friends invariably end up liking. "This is actually pretty fun," they say.
How to explain my DMB obsession? According to my former therapist, it is yet another example of my unwillingness to grow up. "You're 30 now," she said deliberately, as if breaking some terrible news. "Should you really be going to concerts with cute, stoned, shirtless college boys?"
"Well, if you put it like that, then definitely!" I joked, causing her to shift slightly in her seat and scribble something snooty in her notepad.
It's tempting to psychoanalyze my obsession with Dave Matthews, but the truth is that I've always been an unusual gay. A friend once called me an "artsy jock," meaning I love theater as much as I love playing and watching sports. I've never fit neatly into any one group, and I don't love sports, Dave Matthews, or Tori Amos because I'm obsessed with appearing masculine, young, or supergay. I love them because I love them. Or, as a friend put it, "You love them because you have shitty taste."
Still, I am not alone in my shitty taste. Over the years I've met many openly gay Dave Matthews fans (and many more Abercrombie-wearing closet cases, who communicate their interest at concerts by ignoring their girlfriends and subtly rubbing against you as they hand you a joint), and you can only imagine our excitement when we first heard the lyrics to the 1996 DMB song "So Much to Say":
I say my hell is the closet I'm stuck inside
Can't see the lightâ€¦
Yeah yeah yeah can't see the light
Keep it locked up inside don't talk about it
T-t-talk about the weather
Yeah yeah yeah
Open up my head and let me out little babyâ€¦
I find sometimes it's easy to be myself
Sometimes I find it's better to be somebody else
Was Dave trying to tell us something, or had he written that song for his gay fans? Maybe, as some straight DMB fans insist, the song isn't about being closeted -- it's about the universal struggle to be ourselves. So let me end this story by being myself: My name is Benoit, and I'm addicted to the Dave Matthews Band.