"If you tell the Truth, you don't have to remember anything"
-Mark Twain
"You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit." -Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Chicago, Il July 4, 2015

Tonight's show went off like with a bang. All the cues and direction that they showed last night was built on from the very opening notes of Shakedown Street to the closing crash of the nights fireworks. The band is real. They have solidified their position in the band.
Each member had their moment in certain songs like the force of Billy and Mickey were really driving songs like Shakedown Street, Cumberland, and Golden Road. Jeff really excelled on Brent Mydland's B3 organ on the Little Red Rooster, although he didn't take Brent's Neighborly verse. Bruce was all over the map tonight, but he was superb on Tennessee Jed and Deal. His relationship with Trey has taken off after last night. The two have beautiful music minds and I believe that this won't be the last time the two play together. 
It's ridiculous how much Shakedown Street is in Trey's wheelhouse. It's like Jerry gift to Trey. I believe that he could play the song for an hour if he wasn't brought back to earth by Bobby. Yet Standing on the Moon was clearly a song that Trey found a connection in all this Grateful Dead hystera. The thick rich lyrical tone stuck a chord with him. It was shocking that he sang because Bruce mention in an interview short after the announce that Trey didn't know the tune when they did it at the Comes A Time event. Yet my feeling is that Foolish Heart will be the first song that Phish tries out this summer if any. The composition of the song, piano ends on a low note but guitar ends on high, the middle section jam makes it a unique enough song that they could try it out this summer. 
Phil really popped on Bird Song. He has constantly lead his bands through excellent version of this song for the last 15 plus years. Phil was in command of the song, which the band built up and then mellowed just to bring back to another crescendo. Bobby erased twenty years off his body and voice with the spectacular Sailor Saint. He was like a kid again as played his mates through his 80's combo. Then on the Saturday night closer Bobby jumped through the monitors to the front of the stage to show the audience some love. There is no way that any other song can be immediately played after a great Saturday Night, the audience is in a complete frenzy. It is such a great experience. 
All this said, the highlight of the night was not the firework display that Phil and Jill masqueraded to on stage. The highlight was the painting a masterful Stella Blue. Bobby sang the song like his microphone was a rose and he didn't want to blow off any petals, until the break where he lit up. The chills are still going up and down my spine, as I reflex on it. Then Trey lit off on the solo. Cranking up to where he could have put the guitar down and it would have sparked on fire and been let to burn there. It might have been the spark that they used for the fireworks later. The band showed that even with the massive song list that they still could crush it on stage. Now we move into the final night and we know the songs that they still have up their sleeves, "gonna miss me when I'm gone," "sooner you will not heard his song," and what I think will be the encore "we will get by."
I: Shakedown Street, Libery, Standing on the Moon, Me & My Uncle, Tennessee Jed, Cumberland Blues, Little Red Rooster, Friend of the Devil, Deal
II: Bird Song, The Golden Road, Lost Sailor, Saint of Circumstance, west LA Fadeaway, Foolish Heart, Drums, Stella Blue, One More Saturday Night
Encore: US Blues

Friday, July 3, 2015

Chicago, Il July 3, 2015

The hallowed columns of Soldier Field that saw the shadow of Jerry Garcia leave the bright lights of the stage for the final time was awoken for these three nights of the spirit of the Grateful Dead. Though close to twenty years have past the Deadheads have not forgotten and in this celebration of the Grateful Dead the band proved that they have not either. The band resurrected the spirit by starting right were they left off, the final song the Grateful Dead played, Box of Rain opened the nights festivities. It was the band's affirmation or declaration that they were not missing for the last twenty years, they were exclaiming that they have been here all along. Based on the fan reaction to when the tickets were released and the cluster fuck and the ordeal that most fans went through for this weekend, there is the belief that we are all apart of something bigger and better then just going to a concert. It's a light that Deadheads are drawn to. Here is were we can "believe it if we need it or leave it if we dare." "Love will see us through."
There was a bit of fan criticism after the two nights of Santa Clara. The Grateful Dead were always a band with a leader, in Jerry, who didn't want to be a leader at all, and yet he was followed. The group was a band of selsefishant musicians. Each one wanted to be louder in the mix, yet each one focused on fitting their roles under what Jerry played. The first gigs were good but they were leaderless. Despite Phil's spirited take on Box of Rain, the band started falling into place as Trey Anastasio took the second leads on Jack Straw. The Santa Clara band with lovely tunes transformed as machine gun Trey started to blaze is fire all over "Jack Straw from Wichita." Leaps and bounds over the dim previous two shows. The fans got more of what they wanted when Trey took lead vocals on Bertha, and instead of him slinking back into the background, he kept control as a lead guitars should dictate. The soectacular Passenger ended giving the band and audience a chance to catch their breath after four rockers. 
They slickly pulled off a smooth segue between The Wheel and Crazy Fingers. In the Crazy Fingers, Trey lit up the reggae beats with a buoyant solo and then took a step cross the stage and signaled to Bruce to take over, it may have been accident but Trey here took over to be an de facto leader. A leader without wanting to lead. In that space he created, Jeff shone for the first time. Playing Brent Mydland's B3 organ, Jeff sparkled on the solo to Trey who continually sang "I tried" over and over as if he was singing from more then lines on the page. 
The set close with Trey stepping up again and filling those holes in Music Never Stopped with his electric finger. They assinated the notes on the guitar as the crowd egged him on. Phil and Bobby clearly pleased as the band and audience reached a fever pitch. For the first time the atmosphere created such a crushing sound that my ears hurt. The Grateful Dead was fully awake. We walked into the light and prepare for the second set. 
The band started with some tuning as Trey cautiously started building the chord progression to Mason's. Right out of that came Scarlet Begonias. The place erupted. With the Candance light show in full effect the place seemed to be bubbling with emotion as this prized Dead song began and stepped us through the door to "get shown the light." Each solo turn was a new excuse for the audience to celebrate there revival in the song and the band feed off the energy and love that they got from us. The band then layer on textures and the created a base to keep the masses moving. A bit of relief was breathed as Bruce took the lead vocals on Fire on the Mountain. The thick groove filled this palace as we were all "dead to the core." Bobby cued the band into final singing of "Fire," which was supposed to leave space for the drummers to take over but the cue was partially missed by most of the band members. Mickey got the affirmation that he wanted from the crowd as beat a break into his firebird drums and stood with his hands over head. By the time Billy had worked his way over to Mickey's side of the drum kit the band members had started to find their instruments. 
Being that the band only played three songs before Drums, there were big expectations for the second half of the set. The band pieced together the Dead rarity New Potato Caboose. Slowly afterwards the band started building till Bobby signal Playin' like a lighthouse on a foggy night at sea. The crowd was re-invigorated by Playin' as they marched along with the band. As the band slipped off into the abyss of darkness that they gathered from the Playin' they individually followed their own calling till Phil started them down to a lull. This moment of quietness was the opportunity for the band to reconnect with each other. This is what they did by layering texture on top of texture till they broke it apart again. One more time they built and in the frenzy of the built jam they slided into Bobby gently strumming Let It Grow. The band lead us as we "raise and fall," in the moments with the band. (Of all the songs in the Dead catalog, Let It Grow is one that has never been the same since Jerry left us and that is still true.) then the band briefly moved into a transition jam that I thought might have been back into Playin' but no. The band dropped the hammer on Help/Slip. Trey had a mind lapse durning the verse but that was not a distraction to the band as they found the merky waters of the Slipknot section. Trey had firmly established his leaderless leading in this song and so once he shot a glipmse to Bobby to say take us home. Bobby's arm raised as he counted them down into the closing scripted section as Phil eased them into Franklin's Tower. In a moment of metaphysical musical cohesiveness, Bruce and Trey aligned as they complemented each other in the first solo of Franklin's. Every step Trey took, Bruce pushed the envelope further and further. Phil was crawling with emotion when he took over vocals. While Phil sang Trey strolled to his side of the stage to get Bruce's attention, Trey signaled that Bruce was taking the solo after "if you get confused listen to the music play." Bruce shrugged him off once but Trey persisted and Bruce went for it. Might not have been a bigger Bruce fan in the place than Trey as he smiled and cheered him until "some come to laugh the past away."
The sing along Ripple was the fitting topper. The band has completely transformed. The band is now the best band ever assembled for five gigs. This was their half way point and their high water mark. As Neil Young's Cotrez the Killer played over the PA, I feel like I have been transported 20 years back in time. There is a spring in my step. I've awoken fully dead. 
I: Box of Rain, Jack Straw, Bertha, Passenger, The Wheel, Crazy Fingers, The Music Never Stopped
II: Mason's Children, Scarlet Begonias, Fire on the Mountain, Drums, New Potato Caboose, Playin' in the Band, Let It Grow, Help on the Way, Slipknot!, Franklin's Tower
Encore: Ripple

Monday, June 29, 2015

Santa Clara, Ca June 28, 2015

Set I
Feel Like A Stranger
New Minglewood Blues
Brown Eyed Woman
Loose Lucy
Row Jimmy
Alabama Getaway
Black Peter
Hell In A Bucket
Set II
Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodoo
Wharf Rat
Eyes of the World
He's Gone
Drums (with Sikiru Adepoju)
I Need A Miracle
Death Don't Have No Mercey
Sugar Magnolia
Brokedown Palace
There were some people who theorized after the first night's 66-70 time frame that, each show would be a different era of the Grateful Dead. Well this mix of songs dispelled that rumor. The opener was from 1979, the next song was debuted in 1965. So things jumped around. With each song the band has seemed to gain more confidence and play to each other's strengths. 
Now there is waiting for the next three in Chicago. If you do not have tickets, keep trying. If the stage doesn't take up as much room as they predicted, there should be some floors popping up. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Santa Clara, CA. June 27, 2015

Set I
Uncle John's Band           
Cumberland Blues
Born Cross-Eyed
Cream Puff War
Viola Lee Blues 
Set II
Crypitical Envolopment
Dark Star
St Stephen
The Eleven
Turn on Your Lovelight
What's Become Of The Baby
The Other One
Morning Dew
Casey Jones
The "newest" Grateful Dead song on the list is "Truckin'" which debuted on 8/18/70. "Born Cross Eyed" was never played by the Grateful Dead live but was on their 1968 album "Anthem from the Sun." By album they played 3 songs from their first album, 4 from their second, 2 from "Aoxomoxoa," 3 from "Live/Dead," 2 from "Workingman's," and one from "American Beauty."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Soundcheck June 26, 2015

For those who were luck enough, we got to hear most of the soundcheck last night thanks to Agentphish on Mixlr. The setlist from Levi's Stadium is as follows; Althea, Brown Eyed Woman, Truckin', UJB Reprised, Alligator, Cumberland Blues, Born Cross-eyed, Cream Puff War, St Stephen (with William Tell bridge), The Eleven, Lovelight, Space, and Drums. The picture below is the stage setup arriving at Soldier Field. "There's a band out on the highway, their high stepping into town."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Run Me Out

Well it was 20 years ago that I saw my final Grateful Dead concert. By all means, it is more than a bit surreal that they are booked again as the Grateful Dead. I never thought that I would see the day. It is wonder some to think that these show are the bands final send off.
The show, I'm talking about is the second night of Giants Stadium in 1995. I saw the previous night and thought it was magical, until the "Wharf Rat." Somehow Jerry's brain thought that he was playing "Stella Blue" but his mouth was playing "Wharf Rat" until the song coda, when he caught up to himself. Regardless the show was a magically experience for me and my friend as things seemed to line-up for us. This lifestyle, this band, this music was something that I was looking at investing my time and effort into and there was alinement in my trajectory with the band. Even though I was pretty silly of me to be proud of dancing through all of Drums and Space. Yet at the end of the night, I had just seen my first show on LSD and Jerry sang "Lucy in the Sky," so I was taking away from it that there was a mystical connection.
The next night, I saw some of these connection dissolve into uncertainty. For this night I was on the floor, instead of in the 300's. I thought that the first set of this set had more energy than the previous night and was hopeful that the second set would kick it up a notch. The "Aiko" was a fun opener and then the band slowly build into a request the previous night. Before the second set the night beforehand the audience in the 100 level started a long chain of interlocked glow sticks, as a way of requesting "Unbroken Chain." This night got the "Unbroken" but the song was spoiled by Jerry's guitar going dead right as the instrumental break came through. Steve Parrish was running like a madman around Jerry's rig as he fumbled with his guitar and petals. People found it odd a couple of years ago, when Phil plowed through "Unbroken" with Furthur, when Bobby went down, but this was a similar type of deal. The show must go on.
Jerry didn't appear on "Space" and he missed half of the "Other One" with more guitar problems. To me that, "Stella Blue" was a heart felt note. A brilliant apology to the evening technical problems. Then Jerry topped off the show with a fond Fare Well.
Yet there is some regret when I look back on my last show, not because it was my last show but because it should not have been. My buddy was going up to Albany for the two shows at the Knickerbocker Arena and I was going to go with him until my mom talked me into going to my Senior Prom instead. Her comment was, "The Grateful Dead has been around since I was young. You'll have plenty of times that you can go see them." Turns out she was wrong. So when she tries guilting me into not going to Chicago, I remind her of this and continue my obsession with the first weekend in July.
So my hypothesizing over the last month made me reflex on the 20th anniversary shows the band played on 6/14, 15, and 16th of 1985. The shows were full of the GD standards like "Scarlet/Fire," "China/Rider," "Sailor/Saint," and "Terrapin." But the band also took time to nod to the future by debuting out "Keep On Growing." As well they took time to pull out some gems from their years past, such as the first "Comes a Time" in 5 years. Then brief resurrection of "Cryptical Envelopment" which had not been played since 1972 and had only been played once since then.
So this Fare Thee Well, 5 show run, what will be the curveball. When Phil came back to the stage after his liver transplant in 1999, the revival of "Viola Lee" literally came out of no where. I don't remember anyone calling that one. In the years since them "Viola Lee," "Golden Road," and "Weather Report Suite" have all seen the sunshine on a regular bases. I have called "HC Sunshine" as an opener on 7/3 because one of the first interviews I read, Trey mentioned listening to shows from 1973. Then in the Wall Street Journal article Bobby and Trey talk about having about 90-100 songs charted. At between 18-20 songs a show, that means no repeats for all 5 shows. Happy, happy DeadHeads.
Like it or not "Drums" is going to played all 5 nights. I can't see the set up Mickey and Billy have been posting online just being there for "Stagger Lee" and "Ramble On Rose." This also means there will be late set transitions to those dreamy Jerry ballads each night. Five nights, five different songs. "Dew," "Wharf Rat,""Stella Blue," "Days Between," and "Standing on the Moon" could be the five ballads. But what if they open with a "Dew?" Or slide a "Standing on the Moon" as a first set closer? Out of a "To Lay me Down?" That would make room for "Comes a Time," which might make me hit the moon. I also think that there is a rare song that is similar to some of the slower Phish ballads and that is "If I Had The World To Give."
That would pretty much blow peoples mind. Yet I do not think that that would be the gem that gets revived in this atmosphere. The bust out song that I'm going to predict for the weekend in Chicago is "Blues for Allah." I believe that it will fit in the middle of the set and be one of those "Blues for Allah>Drums>Blues for Allah" type jams.
I can honestly say that I'm already thinking about Fourth of July weekend more than I should. I am driving there and back from NYC area. I have family there and hope to do some yoga each day at Cyoglab there. I love to meet up with as many people as possible, best way is twitter HERE or email playingintheheartofgoldband@gmail.com. And we will be "dancing in Chicago!"

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Grateful Dead 50

So word was officially announced today, the core four will reunite for 3 shows in Chicago at Soldier Field. The site of the final Grateful Dead show will host them on July 3rd, 4th, and 5th. These are billed as the final performance by Billy, Mickey, Phil and Bobby. This is also the first time in 20 years that they are using the name The Grateful Dead. So forget about that time in November of 1995, in the St Lawrence dinning hall that CNN flashed a video of the band's Radio City gig and proclaimed that the band released a statement that they would no longer play gigs as the Grateful Dead.
The core four will be joined by Trey Anastasio on guitar, Bruce Hornsby on piano and Jeff Chimenti on keys. A very interesting band for the celebration.
Here are the links you'll need; dead50.comgdtstoo.com, and the video announcement by Trixie Garcia via YouTube. After watching that check out mail order instructions HERE. Then check out this first interview with Trey and Bobby HERE.
I'll be at the shows, its what a DeadHead does, and will try to post reaction and pictures of each of the shows.