Thoughts On The Dead

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

Fifth Set

    • It is the hottest day of the weekend, but there is little humidity.
    • Sweat pours from everyone, but it is a good and manly sweat.
    • The Dead (or whatever) comes onto the stage before the set and waves and hugs and bows.
    • It looks like this:
    • ©Jay Blakesberg
    • It should be noted that the men in this photo have not actually done anything except not die and turn up to the stadium reasonably on time and reasonably sober.
    • We cheer them, anyway.
    • It should also be noted that Billy is touching Phil.
    • And, while we can’t see it, we can be pretty confident that Bobby’s doing his goddamn prayer hands of thanks.
    • And then they kinda burble their way into China Cat Sunflower, which is too slow.
    • Let’s from here on out take “too slow” as a given and not discuss it any further.
    • This is what it looks like from our seats.

IMG_1847

  • Except not quite this dark, yet.
  • I’d show you a better picture, but I didn’t take any.
  • Left my phone in the house.
  • 21st century panic attacks start with the phrase “Dudes, where’s my phone?”
  • We were already in Grant Park and the traffic and crowd was gathering and gaining: there was no going back for it.
  • I patted my pockets many, many times.
  • That’s how you verify something’s state of lostitude.
  • Also, turning out of pockets.
  • I prefer to pat three times for every turn-out; that’s a helpful ratio.
  • We called the Uber; it was not there, so I patted down all my pockets again.
  • Still no.
  • Godammit.
  • I was being forced to pay attention, which thankfully has worn off.
  • Estimated is up, and it is an odd song to play in the daylight.
  • Up until the first notes of the last show, Deadheads had been playing their favorite game, Guess the Opener/Set List/Encore, whatever.
  • Several of us brought up the fact that these weren’t, you know, the third run of a 30-show tour in 1987 and therefore the old rules didn’t apply anymore.
  • And then we would go right back to guessing things and assuming that all the old rules applied.
  • ©Jay Blakesberg
  • Bobby is feeling it; he is growling and lunging and bopping around with no need for any sort of exercise equipment to lean on, and his head does that thing.
  • It’s like a horizontal headbang, sort of: you know what I mean.
  • Although, he now leaves an extra measure in between the lines of the verse of Estimated; it makes the song a little longer, so there’s that.
  • Otherwise, I cannot praise this choice.
  • The long and sinuous jam out of Estimated is slithery and the 70,000 of us sway back and forth.
  • We all bump shoulders and everyone is touching each other.
  • Trey is fucking things up and the sun is going down.
  • Fare thee well... sun - Nate
  • Candace’s lights blip and bleep on and off.
  • The spine of Soldier Field is now sizzling and the Colonnade is shimmying back and forth; if you look carefully, you can see a predatory smile on the face of the video screens and corporate suites.
  • Estimated leads into Built to Last.
  • More precisely, Estimated kinda curdles away to silence, and then Bruce counts everyone into Built to Last.
  • The irony of singing a song called Built to Last at a Farewell Shoe is lost on the crowd, mostly.
  • Troubadour is particularly Garcia-esque on this one, plucking the strings hard to get that chicken-picking sound.
  • TotD will now make a declaration about Jeff Chimenti: Jeff Chimenti is the MSG in the Chinese food of the Farewell Shoes.
  • You couldn’t point to what exactly it is that he’s doing that’s so good, but if he weren’t there, the food would suck.
  • (Monosodium Glutamate is perfectly healthy for you, or at least as healthy as anything other spice. That whole headache thing is bad science mixed with racism.)
  • It is a Sunday night, and therefore the men take off their hats and the women leave them on for Samson.
  • At some point, one must be truthful, even if only for one sentence and then never again: this Samson doesn’t quite compare to, say, the Cow Palace ’76 version.
  • But there are 70,000 of us and we are sweating because the sunset has not affected the temperature, and the heat in the stadium is alive and moving around.
  • Heat is supposed to rise, but it does not: perhaps the blimp scared it, I don’t know.
  • I’m not a meteorologist, man.
  • Jeff Chimenti is doing this now:
  • ©Jay Blakesberg
  • And the place roars for him and stands behind him and kneels before him; we yell for another chorus, and when he does not take one, we yell anyway.
  • Then, they fuck up the ending, which statistically is the correct way to play it.
  • If you just look at raw numbers, they completely whiffed the ending of Samson 70 or 80% of the time.
  • Which kinda makes it the right way to do it.
  • What’s better than Phil singing?
  • Phil singing a slow song with lots of verses.
  • What’s better than that?
  • If it’s a song that the Dead stopped playing the virtual instant they had any other material.
  • Dire Wolf with Bobby singing?
  • Thank God: cross Mountains of the Moon off the set list.
  • They are also playing Mountains of the Moon when the sun is up, much like the broad daylight performance of Standing on the Moon the previous show.
  • If they did it on purpose, then it’s funny.
  • There’s a lot of jam to this, and it’s bordering on Jazz Night at the Marriott, but Trustfund is soaring over everything and it’s a mellow hang, brahj.
  • There wasn’t much to this song in the first place: a couple nice chord changes, a rather hippy-dippy lyric with some nice phrases, and a melody Garcia couldn’t quite sing.
  • Phil doesn’t worry about the melody; Phil thinks the melody should fend for itself.
  • Truedetective and Jeff Chimenti are going at one another like Mormon teens at horseback riding camp, but they are hampered by their distance from one another.
  • At around ten minutes in, a very nice little funk shape starts taking place and Billy falls in and it sounds great.
  • And then it is time for another of the fifteen verses.
  • At this point, Tom Banjo can fuck himself.
  • “Y’know what song should be 13 minutes long?”
  • “Any of them except Mountains of the Moon?”
  • “Um…”
  • The transition into Throwin’ Stones is one of the Kinda Dead’s favorites: everyone basically stop playing except one guy, then follow that guy back into the song.
  • Bobby starts making up lines about buying governments or somesuch, and we cheer because we love Bobby, but in the stadium at the time, no one could make out what he was on about.
  • The band is quiet behind him now and Bobby’s neck is twice the size of a man’s and he is baying that we are on our own, and we sing with him and belie those words: we are not alone, not for one more night, one more set, one more song.
  • We will be alone, but not right now – we will be together tonight.
  • TREY’S DOING THE THING WITH THE FAST NOTES.
  • THE THING THAT GARCIA USED TO DO THAT WE LIKED SO MUCH.
  • OMIGOD, THAT SHIT IS THE BEST SHIT NO MATTER WHO DOES IT.
  • The kids: they dance, and shake their bones.
  • (I love that line and just realized why: it’s just fucking iambic quadrameter. Of course it’s a good line: it’s been a good line for hundreds of years.)
  • Bobby can still sing, straight-up.
  • Most old rock stars can’t, but Bobby lived right.
  • Also, he never really sang at the top of his range, which might help.
  • It seemed like a short set, but it was an hour and ten.

2 Comments

  1. Will you please consider doing this for other dead shows? It’s too funny. Hell, do a phish show while you are at it.

  2. I will read ur blog updates 2morrow but first JEFF CHIMENTI IS MY DAAAAAAAD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*