Imitating but not duplicating

In order to survive college, students often learn quickly to live off the generic. Kash n’ Karry corn flakes, Dr. Thunder soda, Faded Glory jeans; you know the deal.

In this spirit, The Dave Matthews Cover Band performance tonight in the Special Events Center should come as welcome news to DMB fans who can’t afford to shell out $40 for the real deal.

Don’t underestimate these guys, though. They might not produce a mirror image of the band, which more people saw in concert last year than any other act in the world, but they come pretty damn close.

DMCB drummer Lance Tilton said his band’s widely heralded imitation doesn’t come from studying DMB’s on-stage presence.

“We actually don’t do a lot of mimicry,” Tilton said. “I’ve been to about 30 shows and our singer (Dave Koon) has been to about 50. It’s just a lot of listening. Just hearing the music so much makes it come out that way.”

The dozens of shows Koon has attended pay off in DMCB’s live show. Koon boasts a similar voice to that of Dave Matthews, makes similar facial contortions and even sports a similar receding hairline.

Tilton said the band draws from a pool of about 45 DMB songs. He also said they are always trying to learn new tunes. Currently, the band is working on “Bartender” and “If I Had it All.” The band has also been playing around with some of Matthews’ new solo songs, but USF students shouldn’t expect DMCB to incorporate any of those into its set tonight. Students can instead expect “a good variety of old and new.”

DMCB were last in the Bay area this summer when they played to about 1,000 people at Jannus Landing in St. Petersburg, and a variety of old and new tunes is exactly what fans got then. The set included old favorites like “Seek Up” and “Crash into Me” but also had some surprises like “Sweet Up and Down,” from the abandoned Lillywhite Sessions, and “Granny,” a fan-favorite never recorded in the studio.

When they first started covering DMB, the band was often criticized, Tilton said. But now they have developed their own fan following, and most cynics have disappeared.

“I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve gotten better, or people have gotten nicer,” he said.

The band, which hails from Athens, Ga., and has been around for about three years, will probably continue to tour for about another year.

“Then it will probably be over,” Tilton acknowledges.