Above, Ezra Koenig, lead singer of critically acclaimed, chart-topping “indie rock band” Vampire Weekend, performing a purposefully amateurish version of Dave Matthews Band’s 1996 hit, “Crash Into Me.” For those who didn’t go to Jewish summer camp in the late ’90s, DMB (also referred to as “Dave,” as in, “Are you going to see Dave tonight? I’ll bring my hacky sack.”) merged folk-rock, jazz and traditional African influences into albums custom-designed to help college bros who could sort of play guitar get laid. That these albums, at least the ’90s ones, were actually awesome has long gone unnoticed among critics and hipster-types… until now. It’s 2011, 15 years since “Crash Into Me” was a hit, which is apparently long enough for it to undergo a Hall & Oates-esque cool-status turnaround.
Koenig’s cover’s a joke, but other imitators/homage-payers are more sincere: the chunky, horn-driven arrangements of Iron & Wine’s new album sound startlingly Dave-like at a times; L.A.’s Lord Huron plays long, uplifting jams impossible without serious hours logged listening to Under the Table and Dreaming; and even Deerhunter’s “He Would Have Laughed,” a tribute to late garage would-be icon Jay Reatard, evokes the central riff of the band’s “Satellite.” Listen closely, and you’ll hear the band’s influence in plenty of bands who wouldn’t be caught dead playing frat parties. Ironically or not, Dave Matthews Band’s cool-kid time has come: let me be the first to say I liked their earlier stuff better.