Luther Alumni Magazine

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Live at Luther

Eric Ellingsen '99
Eric Ellingsen '99

Excerpted from a post by Eric Ellingsen ’99 on Luther’s Ideas and Creations blog, shared and written by faculty, staff, and students, at

You know that one friend? The one who is always on the cutting edge of music from today, tomorrow, and the past? (And despite the fact that I’m a choir nerd, I’m not talking about Eric Whitacre or J. S. Bach. I’m talking Courtney Barnett, Bob Dylan, and, of course, Dave Matthews.) My good friend Dutcher is that kind of friend for me. He is a huge fan of the Dave Matthews Band, and I’m not even sure if he knows how many times he has seen them live in concert. He shared [last fall] that the Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College album was being released on vinyl for the first time as part of the festivities for National Record Store Day on Nov. 24.

When we first met, Dutcher mentioned “Dave” as his favorite band. I told him that I was at the Live at Luther College concert both times—first in 1996 as a wide-eyed first-year student and then in 1999 as a more veteran senior about to move out to the real world three months later. This figuratively blew his mind, and our friendship was forever cemented.

At the time of the concert, when the album was recorded (February 1996), the Dave Matthews Band was a big thing. Their first major studio album, Under the Table and Dreaming, was just starting to get national attention. While we were all excited that he was coming to Luther, a lot of us were disappointed that it was not the whole band. It was only him and some guy named Tim Reynolds . . . little did we know what this concert would become!

It was an acoustic concert, but the energy in the room was electric. Dave and Tim played a mix of songs, some well-known and others not even on the radio yet. And of course, you can tell which ones we knew at the time because of the cheers coming from the crowd. (My roommate was the annoying guy throughout the album yelling “Play ‘Pig’!” Maybe he was mad because he was in the back row of the balcony and I was sitting in the front row of the old CFL orange chairs?)

Dave talked a little before and after each song, and partway through the concert he introduced a song called “Crash Into Me.” We all sat there, listening, not knowing that this song, about to be released on the album Crash, would become the big hit of the summer of 1996 and be nominated for a Grammy the next year.

Fast forward three years, and I was one of the many Luther students who went to the Book Shop during J-term to purchase our copies of the Live at Luther College album. Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds were back on campus a few weeks later to start the tour to help promote the new album. Once the album dropped, it put a big virtual pin on the map for Luther College. If you told someone you went to Luther, they would often ask where it was. Our new response was, “You know that Dave Mathews Live at Luther College album?” This would trigger a barrage of questions about if you were at the concert, had you met Dave, did you have a poster from the concert, and where had he and Tim stayed overnight while in Decorah?

I did not get to meet Dave or Tim (but some friends of mine were on the SAC concerts committee and did get to meet them), I don’t know what happened to my poster, and I don’t know where they stayed that night.

You can be sure I’ll be listening to the album, though, and remembering what it was like to hear the music live, for the first time, before it was the next big thing.

You tell us!

Among all the bands that Luther has brought to campus over the years, which did you enjoy the most? Share what you remember about the concert. Email your story in 100 words or less to [email protected] or write us at Luther Magazine, 700 College Drive, Decorah, IA 52101.