The Dead experimented with many formats before settling on the Two-Set Solution that finally brough peace to the long-embattled region. Some of them were good ideas, and others the drummers came up with, but since Lost Live Dead refuses to return my phone calls and texts and frowns upon my climbing into his window, I’ll have to illuminate these dark corners of Dead history:
The “All-At-Once” Approach was Phil’s idea, and it wasn’t really his idea so much as it was Charles Ives’ idea, and it was completely awful. Ned Lagin loved it, which should tell you something.
Backwards Day was a spiritual cousin to Opposite Day, I suppose, but instead of just turning their guitars around, the Boys (and Mrs. Donna Jean) turned the whole show around, opening with U.S. Blues, doing the drum solo in the first set, then closing with Promised Land or Bertha, and then just standing there smoking for a while. It was, as you would presume, anti-climactic.
Inside-Out Day might also be considered a spiritual cousin to something, but it was just weird. The band would jam backstage for an hour, then take the stage and smoke, get high, get beejers, get more high, check their gambling losses, poo, and yell at the road crew. Then they would return to their dressing rooms and jam for two hours. This approach angered people.
Karaoke Night with the Dead was a poor attempt to ride a 90’s trend, as was Macarena Night with the Dead. In the former, lucky audience members were allowed to sing with the group until they wandered too close to Garcia and Parish punched them in the head. The latter was exactly what it sounds like and I’m not gonna lie: it caused a suicide or two.
The Wheel of Rock and Roll Fortune is an idea recently dusted off by Elvis Costello, a longtime Deadhead, wherein a large wheel of chance with various song titles is spun and Fata Morgana herself chooses the set list. Except Bear built the Dead’s and he was, you know: utterly mad, so it ran on lukewarm nuclear fusion and the first time it was spun, it generated an EMP burst that took out half of Palo Alto. Also, the Wheel of Fortune, like most things around the Dead, quickly gained sentience and it and the Wall of Sound fucking hated one another.
The Dead in the Round only happened once, and for god reason: Bobby got immediately and violently unwell upon taking the rotating stage. It wasn’t moving that fast, but all those people who got drenched don’t care about details. They got Bobby-juice on ’em.