Thoughts On The Dead

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

Last Set, Pre-Drums

  • Fireworks go off at the end of the set break.
  • We are here:
  • Soldier Field -
  • We realize that the fireworks are meant to be seen from seats, rather than with fake Ionic columns and glassed-in Club Level suites looming overhead.
  • It just seemed rather impossible at the time.
  • You feel me.
  • In person, the columns and the new-fangled nonsense complement each other as poetically as any place named Soldier Field can hope, but in pictures, it’s a mess.
  • “Hey, what was the worst part of the past?”
  • “That is was terrifying?”
  • “And what was the worst part of the Aughts?”
  • “Everything.”
  • “There’s your building!”
  • The two Colonnades, one on each side of the building, are al that’s left from the old place, which was crumbling and spartan.
  • The new part–which is essentially all of it–was built in the early 2000’s and it is obvious.
  • Everything is off-white and sleek and jammed up against exposed structural components.
  • It looks like a dotcom office from 2002.
  • After the fireworks, the (kinda) Dead take advantage of the excitement by moseying into a little jam that takes its sweet time making its way to Truckin’.
  • Showmen to the last.
  • You know my feelings on the “long, strange trip” line, but that’s mostly overuse and lazy writing I’m annoyed with: when the (sort of) Dead sing it at you in a stadium and you sing it back, it is a good line.
  • Tryptophan is so loud in the speaker array that is directly in front of us: we are in section 336 and the speakers are hoisted in the air by a small drivable crane that is parked behind the Deafheads.
  • These are the Deafheads:
  • [PDF] Deafheads' Marked a
  • They are hearing-impaired, or deaf, or Deaf; this was an asset during the Vince years.
  • Like most things in the American Deaf community, Deafheads came out of Galluadet.
  • Deaf people smoke pot, too, it turns out.
  • And while I suppose there weren’t too many Deaf tapers or traders, a weird number of them got into going to shows, and they got an interpreter.
  • The Dead, perhaps tickled by the fact that they had fans who couldn’t even hear them, helped out and made sure there was always a space carved out on the floor, and a platform for the interpreter.
  • English-to-ASL is not a lateral move.
  • They’re different ways of interfacing with reality if you want to get all Sapir-Whorf about it.
  • They have a small corral made of metal barriers, and the interpreter faces away from the stage on a platform with a large monitor showing the close-ups of the band; many of the Deafheads hug large balloons to transfer the sound waves more powerfully into their chests.
  • People kept offering ten bucks for the balloons, which I think was classless.
  • Truckin’ is over and they are playing Cassidy, which makes us happy.
  • During the set break, we meet two of Chris’ friends who, though I do not know them, I know them.
  • Here is a secret about Jews: we only live in five or six places.
  • A couple towns in Jersey/Long Island/Massachusetts; Manhattan; Los Angeles; South Florida (and not all of it, trust me); and Israel.
  • That’s it.
  • Outside of these locations, you might find a Jew, but you won’t find the Jews – we tend to cluster.
  • One of the women and I were from the same New Jersey town full of Jews.
  • (Let’s see if we’ve got any Jewish Geography experts out there. Tell me my hometown: it wasn’t Short Hills, but it was pretty good.)
  • An opposing school once taunted our basketball team by throwing bagels onto the court, which is wrong.
  • Funny, but wrong.
  • Her dog had just died.
  • Up and died, precisely: woke up dead one morning a few days before the shows.
  • Dog was named Cassidy, and she was hoping for a Cassidy, and when we heard it, we texted her and danced and cheered.
  • I did not text her, as I still did not have my phone.
  • No matter how many times I patted my pockets
  • I swear on everything I love and cherish that I was reaching for my phone well into the second set.
  • And I was sober, too: I would have been able to drive a car.
  • On an abandoned airfield, or some other flat and empty space; it would also be advisable to not let anyone else anywhere near me.
  • But, I could drive, yeah.
  • This is what it looks like:
  • 19567294496_0cf37d1f50_o
  • We are on the other side of the stadium, and we are dancing and awaiting out Terrapin, which will be the transcendent moment.
  • One would assume.
  • What could go wrong?
  • Then Trey snaps out the opening chord and slide into Terrapin and 70,000 people raise their hands in thanks and joy and gratitude.
  • Who’s gonna sing?
  • Bruce does it with his band.
  • Trey could–oh, Sweet Baby Corn, what is this?
  • Phil.
  • Huh.
  • I forgave him instantly, although I was in a forgiving mood.
  • This is Martin:
  • IMG_1874
  • He is an adorable muppet.
  • When I have spoken about Chris and Martin, he has been the Martin; he can’t be the Chris, he’s too short.
  • He had been looking forward to the Terrapin; when we discussed the songs the (mostly) Dead might play, he got excited over the Terrapin.
  • Without any particulars, we had a long conversation this night about how much to do.
  • I’ll just leave it at that wording.
  • The decider was Terrapin: we would get a Terrapin this evening, so therefore – more.
  • We will get a Terrapin, so we should do more: this is good logic.
  • We forgot that Terrapin was a Phil song.
  • Box, Tom Thumb’s, Terrapin.
  • And there was the initial disappointment and confusion, but then that shit got funny.
  • Phil singing Terrapin was like Lucy pulling the football away from 70,000 Charlie Browns at once.
  • And Martin and I started having a great time laughing at the absurdity of it all, and doing our Phil impressions when, as I mentioned previously, the guy in front of us wearing a captain’s hat shushed us.
  • Which was right of him to do, but also funny as fuck.
  • Like: he wasn’t the captain of the section, man.
  • And then Chris–who disappeared fifteen minutes ago, ostensibly to get beer–comes back.
  • His friends are in hysterics, Phil is singing Terrapin, Captain Shushalot has turned the section into a hell-on-earth under his tyrannical rule.
  • “I leave you guys alone for two minutes…”
  • This is Chris:
  • IMG_1865(1)
  • He is the one who is tall, handsome, and not Benjy.
  • There is more to this photo; not much more, but a little.
  • There will, I feel, be time to talk about stuff during the upcoming Unbroken Chain>Days Between pairing, which may in fact still be going on.
  • The video screens come on for Drums.


  1. Wow Chris and Martin u guyz r so young!!!!!!!!!! Twice my age but still young wow WOW

    p o s t a s e l f i e omfg

  2. south orange?

  3. the couple sitting behind us all 3 nites was an extremely cool pair of schoolteachers from the smoky mountains area, super nice plus they brought edibles that tasted like tootsie rolls

    anyway we all got to know each other in the section and they told us they had a son named Cassidy with autism. it obviously came up that it would be cool if the near-dead would play it

    FF to Sunday 2nd set, bob strums the first cords, the band kicks in, I look behind me to acknowledge the moment with them and they are sobbing and smiling, ecstatic and moved in a way that I just don’t have the words to describe.

    right there for eight minutes or so they shared their souls with all of us and it was all that was good in this world

    it didn’t hurt that Cassidy was easily the best thing they played all weekend, like they were saving it all up for my new friends behind me

    I’ll never forget it

  4. Is it just me or if you combine Chris and Martin would you actually get Chris Martin. Were they his first act of conscious uncoupling?

  5. Margate? Terrapin was . . . lame. Trey didn’t have control of the song. At all.

  6. Was it Teaneck?

  7. That Benji briefcase is pretty scary. I think we need to talk about this.

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