1991: The College-Town Favorite
Virginia-based bartender Dave Matthews begins jamming with local musicians and forms DMB, which plays its first full concert at Charlottesville's Earth Day festival. Over the next two years, the band gains notoriety on the college-radio circuit, alongside awkwardly named groups such as Counting Crows and Hootie and the Blowfish. Frat boys and trustifarians alike rejoice: they have a new favorite band.
1994: The Breakout Hit
Despite mixed reviews as offering little more than the major-label debut from another jam band, Under the Table and Dreaming goes quadruple platinum with three top-ten singles. Superlative-laden live shows ensue, as dawn-of-the-Internet live bootlegs build a fan base with Dead-level obsessions. Only less acid.
1997: The Great Sellout
Crash manages to yield DMB a Grammy for that unspectacular convulsion of a single, "So Much to Say." Coincidentally or not, Matthews launches an attack on bootleggers in conjunction with the federal government, targeting stores that sell semi-legal discs of live performances. Those stores likely do not sell the Backstreet Boys or the Spice Girls, who have begun to dominate the airwaves. Coincidentally or not, DMB puts out its first major-label live album.