Thoughts On The Dead

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

Better Dead Than Red

Red Rocks is aptly, if unimaginatively, named and the Dead loved playing there and the Deadheads loved seeing them there. Everyone else hated it: trucks couldn’t get in, so the gear had to be strapped to donkeys or convicts and walked to the stage; plus, the surrounding area is not so much bong-hits-and-skiing Colorado as it is Nazi-memorabilia-and-crank Colorado, so the fans weren’t particularly welcome. By ’87, the Dead had gotten too big for the venue and would never return. (Mickey came back alone in 1989 because he had lost his wallet and thought maybe it was there.)

But the band and the fans dug it while it lasted and here’s why:

dead red rocks
I’m sure all of you can see the appeal in an early evening spent like this:

red rocks dusk
Or a summer afternoon soaking up the sun with your friends and the Dead:

red rtocks deadThe above picture contains a rare glimpse of Precarious Lee’s greatest triumph. He had stacked things on top of other things, sure. There was duct tape by the mile, yes. But he had never before leaned a speaker bank against some rickety scaffolding. They told Precarious it couldn’t be done, and then they showed Precarious the math that proved it couldn’t be done, and while they were fucking around with their books and pencils, Precarious had screwed the stub of a Marlboro into the corner of his mouth and gotten shit done.

The TotD recommendation of the day is 8/31/78 from Red Rocks. Spencer was looking for a good Red Rocks show, and I answered him with authority.

Authority. Not, you might notice, accuracy. I was thinking of 8/30, with its first-ever Ollin Arageed (that they do not how to play) and one of only three (or so) If I Had the Worlds.

My allergy to research has seemingly screwed us, but not for a loophole: all the shows from ’78 (in America) were pretty damn good and the 8/31 is no exception. Big ol’ Terrapin. Scrumptious* Black Peter. Plus, first-ever Shakedown that only lasts six minutes, which I felt was rude of them.

So: yes, 7/7 and 8 are probably “better” and “more enjoyable” and “less not as good” but have a little love for an underappreciated show and give it a spin.

*Using scrumptious to describe anything other than certain foods deeply disturbs people.

“You see the game?”

“Fuckin-a, I saw the game. Guerrero’s curveball is scrumptious.”

“I’m gonna go drink my beer over there. Don”t follow me.


  1. Bonnie Lass of Fenario

    August 26, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    I’m still trying to get to the end of 07-08 so SHUT UP TOTD.


  2. Long long time lurker, first time commentator – you’re going to talk about the leaning speakers and say nothing about the towers in the first picture that are more than twice as tall as the stage?

    • I swear that I’m so used to this band’s weirdness that I thought that might be normal.

    • Nothing to worry about. The Front Range is a wind free environment.

      • The Chief Hosa campground would be dead head friendly for the shows, at least in 1983/1984.

        Easy to find literally straddling route 70, register on one side camp on the other. Find route 70, head uphill till you see it, pull over, camp.

        Maybe the wackier than usual speaker setups where an attempt to deal with the steepness of the seats, as I recall it seemed a rather steep arrangement.

        Some Dead Heads claim the sound was better with the dry air making the boards run cleaner and clearer, might be wacky thinking or perhaps somewhat valid?

        • I think the acoustics of the rocks and the shape of the bowl affected the sound more than the supposed cleanliness of the air.

          Occasionally, Deadheads are not the most critical of thinkers.

  3. All I know is I’mma rock the no-shirt-and-jeans look today along with my Bobby stache’ and short beard. Won’t be long before the wife drags be to the bedroom.

  4. Sir Luther Von Baconson

    August 28, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    little trouble navigating the stairs

  5. The place looks like Forever.

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