One of the first things you realize on psychedelics (besides how silly it is to fight the urge to vomit) is that you can do a lot of damage. To yourself, to other people: these are powerful substances. There’s a reason they call it acid.
We continue our trek through the Almost Great Shows with a fairly famous one: 10/26/89 in Miami, based on a recommendation from Intergalactic Affairs Editor, friend of the bloggings, and all-around secret weapon, Mr. Completely. He writes this:
And that was really the point: that was the first time, and almost the only time, that I heard the Grateful Dead get Seriously Fucking Weird, like not just rote, surface-level weird, the kind they could crank out by the numbers, but the kind with deep intent behind it, and the intent was to fuck with your head in a pretty serious way.
At that point, you know, we were in a post-jaded phase, and felt like we had this whole Dead show thing dialed in pretty good. Betting pools on the setlists, two hits tonight, then four, then eight the last night. Band’s playing better now than they were in ’88, more interesting, tonality sometimes questionable but basically on board with the MIDI thing, new songs mostly suck (I liked Victim, though, but partly because it bothered the fluffy rainbows) but more than made up for by the series of bustouts. Most importantly, tripping at shows was still intense, and sometimes we’d still have Big Moments, but nothing like those early shows, where even a completely generic Saturday Night Special might turn you inside out. Fall tour had been up and down, I’d heard Garcia was dirty again & as tour progressed it became plainly obvious that it was true; but we’d all crossed Dark Star off our life-lists, and once you’ve seen a hundred-plus and peaked to Dark Star, well, in ’89 there weren’t really anymore badges to sew on your sash after that.
So we washed out the tour vial, the good stuff, and settled in for the last show of the run…and they skullfucked us so hard I’m still a little shocked we didn’t all get pregnant with mutant mind-babies.
The psychic wreckage was astonishing. People were destroyed by it: no one was ready, and everyone was taken. Until I started swapping stories on the internet, I assumed it was just the n00bs (there really were a lot) and my heavily overdosed little circle, but it seems like it was basically everyone, or at least everyone that was paying attention at all. The dark waves started coming off the stage during Victim and particularly during the mini-space after it. Ominous mental clouds gathered through setbreak and with the out-of-nowhere Estimated opener the tension was palpable (“did I space out the entire first song of the set?”). Long, long 70s style pause before Blow Away gave everyone plenty of time to project their own inner turmoil onto the stage. And then, well, all the memories after that are essentially reconstructed from listening to the tape in later years. The frequent comparisons to alien abduction are on point: there was Missing Time in there, and then a slow, shattered drift to the surface from the deepest of depths.
I was going to add more, but Senor Completidad just dropped the mic on all of us.
Sit back. Do what you do; be yourself all over the place. Remember: it’s only a ride.
We leave you with some selected quotes from the Archive, all of which is [sic].
This show was terrifying. I can remember all my friends asking me if I was “alight” for hours after this show. Truth was, I wasn’t….
This is off the hook. This is Dark powerful freak the dogs out slap your grandma kinda powerful music.
this is pull your hair out running screaming out the door music. every time i have to defend the dead aginst puffballness i give them this tape. they either tell me they ‘rarely’ played this good, as if to write it off, or they shake their head and say ‘i never knew’… most nights jerry was the biggest tease in the world. i wasn’t there but i know he spooged on the walls that nite. no teasing here, i’m just gonna screw you into tomorrow, and have you talk to your dead grandmother while i’m at it.
All I know is I wound up in Key West the next day still tripping my balls off and swiming with dolphins..ahhh those were the days!
This Dark Star sounds like the inside of an electronic pinball machine.
I was at this show and it was extremely edgy. We watched many a pastel colored yuppie suck down frozen mixed drinks, oblivious to the seriousness of the first set. By the time Drums was hitting us, these poor folks were literally crawling up the aisles, covered in their own sick, trying to get out of the cauldron
It was like watching aliens land in your backyard….
p.s. I have linked to a Matrix mix instead of the usual Charlie Miller SBD because, for some reason, the CM’s are all either first set or second set. It;s a decent mix, but if you choose to listen to the first set, be ready to hit fast forward, as the creator of the matrix thought we needed–for the sake of competism, I suppose–to hear literally scores of minutes of nothing, absolutely nothing, happening at all.