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City Lights By ED KEMMICK

The Dave Matthews Band played in Boulder, Colo., Wednesday. The concert was indescribably awesome, totally, seriously cool and, like, unbelievable.

Or so I heard. I was just the chauffeur. About the time Dave was getting ready to play, I was eating the Wednesday-night lasagna special at a sidewalk cafe on Pearl Street.

I had agreed to drive four 17-year-old girls — my daughter, Hayley, and three of her friends, Alex, Gentry and Molly — down to Boulder for the show because they had already paid $60 apiece for their tickets and their ride had fallen through.

Not that my motives were purely unselfish. I’d never been to Colorado, and two days off work sounded pretty good. Above all, I figured my 36-hour investment would yield years of gratitude; for once, I would be a hero in my daughter’s eyes.

I can just guess what all you old squares are asking right now: Who in the heck is Dave Matthews? Well, Dave is like the Beatles, only with short hair. My daughter and her friends idolize Dave, though he has never driven them anywhere.

So much happened on our short trip that I’ll jump right to the highlight: We had just arrived in Boulder, driving on Arapahoe Avenue to our motel, when we spotted a big black bus on Folsom Street.

Since Dave was playing at Folsom Stadium just up the road, we reasonably thought it might be his bus. It rolled through the intersection, but we noticed two other buses still stopped at the lights. The girls started waving at the bus in front.

What I heard next sounded like an escalating testament of faith, with all four girls screaming in unison: “Oh my god! Oh my GOD!! Oh MY GOD!!!”That’s right, a waveThese were the last coherent words they uttered for two or three minutes, which they spent screaming and laughing hysterically, stamping their feet and hugging each other. One of them, I forget which, finally gained enough composure to say that Dave’s drummer, DAVE’s drummer, you understand, actually saw them wave and then he — who could imagine it? — waved back! At THEM!

The drummer sighting threw them into such a frenzy that they were still dancing back at the motel while trying to apply makeup and otherwise prettify themselves before the concert.

On the way to the stadium, they put a CD in and we drove up Folsom Street listening to “Ants Marching,” one of Dave’s biggest hits. The girls were singing along at the top of their lungs and springing up and down so hard that my car was bouncing like a low-rider. When I dropped them off outside the stadium, I thought I had never seen four happier people.

As I said, I was eating at a sidewalk cafe about the time Dave was scheduled to take the stage. I used to like squeezing my carcass into a tightly packed mass of sweaty people while listening to ear-shattering music, but here I was, perfectly happy to be eating lasagna, drinking a beer and reading an old book. The girls wouldn’t have understood.

About midway through dinner, it began to get chilly, and soon it was pouring rain. I thought of the poor girls. Being from Montana, they didn’t realize that dramatic short-term changes in the weather are possible, so of course they didn’t bring any warm clothes, much less any rain gear.Exposed to the elementsBut they were better off than some of Dave’s fans. From what I saw driving around the stadium, many of the young ladies attending the concert, tragically, could only afford enough clothing to cover the tenderest parts of their persons.

When I picked up the girls many hours later, my first impression was that the whole thing had been a bust. I soon learned that I had mistaken utter exhaustion for disappointment. They’d been dancing, singing, screaming, clapping and shivering for five straight hours and they were half-dead, incapacitated by joy.

Their tickets put them about a mile from the stage at the far end of a sea of 45,000 fans, but somehow they managed to get down right next to the stage where — are you ready for this? — Dave, Dave freaking Matthews, THE Dave Matthews, Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band, waved to them from behind a speaker, just before he came on stage.

Hayley, speaking in a worn-out, robotlike monotone, stared out through the windshield and said, “Dad, seriously, that was seriously the best day of my life. I’m serious.”

The girls didn’t completely recover until the next night about 10:30, when we finally rolled back into Billings after a nine-hour drive. A few blocks from home, they played another Dave CD. The music, and the realization that the adventure was just about to end, was like a jolt of adrenaline.

Suddenly they were singing again, shouting, talking all at once about the concert and the crowds and the music and the rainbow and the rain and the dancing and Dave. They were bopping and smiling and laughing and I thought for just a moment that it wouldn’t be so bad to be 17 again.

Fellow old people, I can assure you that not all the old sayings are true. Youth is not wasted on the young. They seem to be enjoying every minute of it.Ed Kemmick can be reached at 657-1293 or ekemmick@billingsgazette.com

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