Thoughts On The Dead

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

First Set

  • I missed the first two or three songs of the July 3rd show.
  • Stadiums are built so they can fill up or empty in ten minutes, but not the field.
  • The field is deliberately designed to be tricky to get to.
  • There are only two points of access, and one of them is being taken up by a temporarily-funct choogly-type band.
  • You’ve created a nice little choke point for yourself, plus the folks on the floor need wristbands.
  • Which they ran out of just as I got to the gate.
  • Back-up began immediately, and then people started helping.
  • Helping is to be pronounced sarcastically.
  • Couple of fuckers literally tried to start a riot.
  • There were no cops, and no security: just volunteer ushers trying to do the best job they could.
  • If you didn’t have a wristband, you wouldn’t be able to leave the floor, which seems reasonable, but the stronger the waves of pressure on my back, the less I cared.
  • Years ago, WBCN hired Green Day to play a free concert in the Hatch Shell in Boston.
  • Someone punched the bass player, or something or other, and the band left the stage after four songs.
  • Riot.
  • Crowds are stupid beasts, but they turn quickly.
  • The assholes kept helping, and yelling for the crowd to do what crowds will do.
  • The volunteer usher I was standing with was in law school and wanted to see the Dead for free; I figured I would throw her under a table and hunker down in there.
  • Trey played the opening chords to Bertha a little too slowly, and a small brown guy and a large white guy sprinted up with the missing wrist bands.
  • Welcome back, my friends.
  • It looked like this:
  • rosebucassidy3rd
  • But with more people, and with more Trellis Abdominizer.
  • He began the weekend like a motherfucker, motherfucked his way through the holiday, and then deliberately got a non-direct flight home so he could fuck mothers all the way back.
  • Which brings us to the first of problems.
  • Not problems, really.
  • Problems have solutions: this is intractable.
  • Not only is there nothing like a Grateful Dead concert, but there’s nothing like any kind of concert.
  • Sitting on your couch with headphones on, listening to a crisp Charlie Miller SBD has so little in common with the actual event that it makes more sense to judge them as separate events than even as facets of the same diamond.
  • Tripp sounds great on Bertha instrumentally, but the tape reveals his voice as weaker than I remember.
  • Mostly because when he sang about getting tested and arrested, 65,000 people were screaming along with him.
  • I don’t know about the rules regarding the SBD’s of the Chicago shows, but they are available; I won’t post them, but if they get posted in the comment section, they won’t be taken down.
  • They just finished up Passenger and Bobby asked the crowd if they were “ramping up for a sane Fourth?”
  • They didn’t play Passenger for all that long: ’78 to ’80 or ’81, and the song never felt the need to be ten minutes long.
  • There really isn’t ten minutes worth of song in Passenger, if we’re honest.
  • The sun is now setting on Soldier Field and the closest thing there is to a Grateful Dead is going into The Wheel, and the Deadheads are taking off their sunglasses and swaying and davening and asking each other if this isn’t really more of a second set song.
  • It totally is.wpid-wp-1435974553355
  • I did not notice that Bobby was wearing what had been sold to him as a lengthy short but were in fact jeans.
  • I only had a direct view of the band on the second night: on the 3rd, I was on the floor and am not Bill Walton; on the 5th, there was a speaker bank in between our seats and the stage.
  • Transom is doing quite a bit of Phishy bullshit in this The Wheel, but then he nails the transition into Crazy Fingers, which may be our first honest-to-gosh “>” of the night.
  • The Grateful Dead may have played Crazy Fingers at an acceptably professional level, like, four times in the history of the song.
  • Although, Garcia was the one who always fucked it up, so maybe his death was a good thing for Crazy Fingers.
  • Stop it.
  • Fine.
  • It was almost dark now, and Candace Brightman started doing this sort of thing:
  • blimp view2
  • And as she does this in the soft and magic last light, Trey sings the line “I try” over and over, too many times, and it is a mantra and you cheer with him and for him.
  • We will all try, Treyvon, and we will do our parts as the spotlights pick out love and point out kindness and pin joy down like a butterfly in the perfect Chicago dusk.
  • The acid has kicked in.
  • So has The Music Never Stopped, which is too damn slow, and the tape reveals a frustrated Billy trying to goose the thing up to no avail, but it doesn’t matter when Bobby proclaims that everybody’s dancing and all of us rush to prove him no liar.
  • And then he asked us if they were ever here at all, and a stadium got a catch in its throat and knew it would be the first of many.
  • Mickey is audible for the first time during the jam, and Bruce is whanging on the bottom octaves of his Steinway as his right hand bounces down the top notes.
  • And now Bobby is ranting about Never Stopping and you know no one’s phoning this sucker in: Bobby’s gonna Bobby as hard as he can and then Trey starts fanning the guitar like the old man.
  • It is dark now and all the people are a crowd and we are there to see the Grateful Dead and against all odds, they might have shown up.
  • Set break.



    I felt like we were stuck in the longest drums and space ever, and now we’re finally emerging into Miracle, or maybe Goin Down The Road.

  2. “Sitting on your couch with headphones on, listening to a crisp Charlie Miller SBD has so little in common with the actual event that it makes more sense to judge them as separate events than even as facets of the same diamond.”

    They are entirely separate. Especially for Dead shows, but in general. There’s the live experience, and then there’s the playback. The live experience has a string theory number of dimensions and the playback has pretty much the usual number.

    • That’s what I said. I was gonna get to the half-understood quantum theory. Don’t read ahead.

    • I have danced thru many a Dead show that opened like a never-ending flower but turned out a big stinker on tape.

      • Absolutely. More interesting to me are the ones that go the other way. Doing whole tours and runs led me to be kinda jaded and stupid sometimes and while I always loved being in the room, sometimes I thought the music on a given night wasn’t super great (relative to that year) and now it turns out I was wrong about that…I’ve found several shows like that now

  3. Did you really take acid? Were you even able to remember the show had you taken it?

  4. So someone else will probably post audience tapes or mp3s of the webrip

    This is the best audio of the webrip SBD that is currently circulating. The mighty Charlie Miller did a high quality audio capture and light remaster. He circulated the FLACs in a half-finished state, and I’ve been finishing them up. Here are the 3 I’ve completed so far

    Santa Clara 6.27!yQ12hSJT!UpY8ftdxFvaUWefHm-ntkeCSPKGF5BHFIt1nR3yHjns

    Chicago 7.3!rANRxQaT!6tcWHrjjpzppg7tDUlHog_VCDmOeOImdUt5XI9giT4Y

    Chicago 7.4
    7.4.15 Chicago FLAC!2J0GmLrQ!eE8XWRj1sGzzoHGx0k4ajCponLHmr07gfr9DSXAI3TY

    I’ll do the other two over the next few days. You can follow me on twitter if you want them

    Before anyone asks:

    1) I cannot help you understand or use FLACs, sorry

    1.5) yes I have passed A/B listening tests with FLAC vs. lossy, so STFU about lossless being pointless, you’re wrong

    2) Mega is turning into a pain in the ass but that’s where these are hosted for now. Look for the “download in browser” link.

  5. This is good. No further comment.

  6. hugh.c.mcbride

    July 15, 2015 at 12:31 am

    My new goal in life is to conduct myself in such a manner that, upon my inevitable demise, someone somewhere will be inspired to opine that “he lived his life as though he were a temporarily-funct choogly-type band.”

  7. Wheel > Crazy Fingers was great

    Lot of stuff was pretty slow when you really listen to it

    Passenger has a wonderful explosive jam but it’s a one trick pony: wheedleywheedleywheedleywheedleywheedleywheedleyKABLAM, BOOM [B3 spike] which is great

    But they did stick with the GD tradition of getting off the beat at least once in every Passenger jam

    (no not the 77 ones they didn’t jam it in 77, h3tty passenger jams are a ’79-80 thing)

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