Thoughts On The Dead

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

M.I.T As Well

When dunces give you that “Jerry didn’t want it to be about politics, maaaaaaan,” jive, just remind them the Dead were literally the house band of a student riot. This is 5/6/70 on the Kresge Plaza at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The band was scheduled to play the next night in the gym, but when the kids took the campus in protest of the National Guard murdering four Kent State students, the Dead agreed to provide the soundtrack; they were hidden in the back of a bread truck and smuggled onto the site. (It looks like they didn’t bring Pig’s organ.) It was cold–May in Boston can get wicked chilly–and they had more trouble keeping their guitars in tune than normal, but the set’s got a crackly and wired energy; Dancin’ in the Street is the highlight, which makes sense given the context.

Garcia didn’t do politics because he was terminally passive-aggressive, but the Grateful Dead always chose sides, and it was always the side you’d expect.


  1. Love this post.

    Though, I thought the bread truck incident happened for the show at the Columbia student strike in ’68.. how many times did the Dead get smuggled in bread trucks to radical student political events??

    • Thoughts On The Dead

      May 6, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      You may in fact be right, but now we will all agree to believe that the Grateful Dead got smuggled into all their shows in a bread truck.

      • They would never have lasted in the face of today’s gluten-free audience.

      • NoThoughtsOnDead

        May 7, 2017 at 12:15 am

        Locally, in the mid-1980s, there was a business called “Grateful Bread.” I think they distributed, rather than baked. But they had a truck, with Rick Griffin/”Wake of the Flood”-style graphics on the sides. Killer! I never saw them smuggling a band into a show.

  2. Love it…yeah, not political.

    Columbia, MIT, the Panther rallies.

    Hell, the Grateful Dead even existing was a political act.

  3. Mean, Green, Devil Eating Machine

    May 7, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    We did the bread truck thing at Columbia. Much less equipment, much easier to fit into that one truck.

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