Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

And His Sidekick, Colonel Waitlist

This, Younger Enthusiasts, is what was called General Admission. Clubs and small theaters without seats still use it, and fly-by-night festivals, but promoters who didn’t buy their insurance from Antoine’s House of Chicken and Indemnity try to break the crowd into smaller pieces now. Three or four paddocks on either side going back. This keeps your audience safe. (Or controlled, however you want to think of it.) Otherwise, the audience surges towards the stage when the band starts and doesn’t stop until everybody’s favorite fun game, Take A Step Back.

That’s how shitty free-for-all GA was: it went wrong so often that a song (kinda) was named after it. There are famous Take A Step Backs, for fuck’s sake. The band couldn’t have enjoyed doing that, either. How can you choogle when you’re watching a 15-year-old in a tube top get crushed against a police barrier? It also killed people, making GA the equivalent of Communism: an idea so bad it’s lethal. Eleven kids at a Who concert in ’79, three at an AC/DC show in Utah in ’91, two at Donnington during Guns n’ Roses’ set.

Younger Enthusiasts will also notice that there are no Superluxe Esteemed Guest Praetor’s Suite boxes upfront.

Keen-eyed Enthusiasts will note the ultra-rare sight of Phil playing a normal bass guitar.

Keener-eyed Enthusiasts will spot the chick in the black tank top standing next to the tall guy and know that Bobby was making eyes at her the whole set.

All Enthusiasts will notice the loose wires all over the goddamned stage and know who was responsible.


  1. Was at RFK in ’86. After the Dylan / Petty set, a few of us made our way up to the front. It was actually quite easy, and even after the Dead came on, we had plenty of room to move and dance, and we were only about 5 feet from the barrier. I vividly remember looking behind me and seeing 50 thousand plus in the stadium and thinking, how the hell do I have all this room around me.

    I also saw The Who early 80’s in Biloxi, MS in a 13 thousand seat place. We were about 5th row, and we had to get out of there before The Who even came on. It was crushing and we were scared for our lives. Never felt that kind of fear before.

    Always thought it was just that the Dead fans were so much more mellow, but after hearing all the Take a Step Back shows, I guess I was just in a lucky space at RFK. Getting crushed sucks. Must have really sucked for the Dead to have to see it when they were on stage (like you said).

  2. You have never been more wrong. Anything but GA is wrong and against God.

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