Yes indeed, as Yogi Berra said, it’s Deja Vu all over again! Even though Yogi Berra will always be remembered as a great Yankee, the finest team in New York, he did serve a short sentence as a Met. His final appearance as a player was in a Mets uniform on May 9, 1965, only 4 days after The Warlock’s first show at Magoo’s Pizza Parlor. Deja Vu seems to be a never-ending and continuous part of our lives in Dead Land. The second night at Citi was no different. In a lot of ways, Sunday was a day that seemed like an extra special blessing to me personally after decades of sowing abundant seeds into the community. It was in many ways the culmination of a lot of personal energy that finally seemed to bear some fruit. I had the pleasure of meeting Donna which only seemed like a pleasure to one of us. There was something still brewing in the air however that was much bigger than all of that. It was the arrival of Jess and Nigel Burbridge after their trip here was delayed for a couple of days. Rumors have circulated that Oteil’s wife, Jess, actually writes all of the setlists for Dead & Company. She obviously has impeccable taste and as a long time Dead Head understands the “Never Miss a Sunday Show” mantra. Hold on… I might be thinking of the wrong bass player… And the wrong wife… Regardless, the Burbridge family was together and that makes for a happier and more blessed environment for everyone!
Coming up on the anniversary of the GD50 Shows, memories come rushing in that are more recent than most tend to be. Weir’s return to the days of his youth started there and he’s been getting stronger and better every show since. The return of US as a community in a big way. The return of the greatest music catalog in history being played powerfully on massive stages through massive Meyer Sound systems. I think the most important ingredient this time around might actually be the absence of something as opposed to the presence of anyone. There’s a very definite absence of animosity on and around the stage. That’s probably making the biggest difference. The folks on the sides of the stage are dancing as hard as we are and it’s smiles for miles for most of the cast and crew it seems.
The residual good will that was still remaining from the previous night was all over the stadium and being added to hourly. Smiles and kindness radiated through the scene as The Tribes met at The Apple and elsewhere. Names were finally put to faces for some of US after a more than a year of communicating daily through social media in some cases. I personally got a chance to meet people I’ve had friendships with without ever seeing. It was great to meet some of you digital pen pals finally! YOU ROCK Laura & HL! It was great jammin with y’all! The air was properly seasoned for all the right things to take place and it was the proper day of the week to expect it.
When you open with St. Stephen, it’s already a good show even if there are problems the rest of the way. There were plenty of problems with the Stephen and it seemed liked nobody ever got on the same page vocally. That all gets erased when they jam the fuck outta the end and that’s exactly how it went down. Bertha is a fantastic way to keep things rolling in the right direction and was followed by my personal first set favorite by Weir, Black Throated Wind. I had to go to the bathroom pretty bad at that point so I was grateful for Peggy O. I returned in time for Box of Rain and that was as bouncy and fun as I could’ve hoped. GDTRFB was an outstanding way to close the first set. The jams in GDTRFB were tremendous. Oteil’s bass really drives that one in a direction that is entirely pleasing. US Dead Heads LOVE our bass players and Oteil is gaining popularity in a hurry. The brother has more chops than a Karate tournament and is as nice of a human as anyone out there. I personally enjoyed seeing Donna up there. She was a little low in the mix but I suppose that’s much better than being a little high in the mix. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.
The algorithms for predictability were all pointing to Truckin and as we should know by now, the algorithms rarely fail. New York! Got the way and means, just won’t let you beeeeeeeeeee! No No!!! The best thing about Truckin was the jam at the end that’s getting much better. I haven’t been able to put a finger on why the tension and release in that jam isn’t finding much tension at all. For some reason, when they’re supposed to be winding it up, it doesn’t seem to be getting all that wound up. It was definitely better but I look forward to them figuring out how to apply the pressure to that jam that makes it what it’s made to be. It’s not there yet.
He’s Gone was outstanding mostly due to the vocal jam at the end. Listen for Oteil at the end of that one. He almost went into a full blown scat solo, plucking the high notes and matching em with his voice. It was a fantastic moment only to be made better but the opening riff of Help On The Way that immediately followed. Slipknot found the resistance required to stretch the mind like salt water taffy. The jam found some extended exploration and wasn’t cut short by Weir for a change. I’m gonna say something about that while I’m here. Weir needs to let some of the jams go and stop trying to direct traffic so much. He’s always waving his arms around and cutting off John’s jams right in the middle of em. I can’t believe that Mayer is the one trying to really push the jams and go further with them and Weir has been the one cutting them off. When they really just let it go it’s much better. Let that jam take another spin around the block, if ya know what I mean… As Slipknot got fully compressed and then completely unwound I was stoked to hear one of my life’s favorite riffs springing out! Franklin’s Tower brings me as much joy as any tune I know. The jams were aggressive and powerful. The dancing that accompanied was exactly the same! That was a special half a set that was invigorating and edifying to the soul. While I’m talking about dancing, I have a question… When the fuck did people start bringing all the props and accessories in to dance with? Hula Hoops and rings and shit… Really? The Circus has turned to Cirque du Soleil. People have all kinds of equipment they’re using to dance. Juggling knives and swinging shit all over the place. I don’t when it happened. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it… That’s all I’m sayin about that for now…
The Days Between came out of space and provided the moment we all require and appreciate for a period of deep internal analysis. The lyrics as I age seem to speak deeper into my own journey. As a kid, I heard the song from Garcia’s point of view and it seems as I get a little older myself, the journey now is my own. Weir did a fine job relaying the intensity of Hunter’s last epic piece created with Garcia. I’m still willing to walk half way ’round the world on promise of the glow… Give the best I have to give… How much I’ll never know… Never Know…
The best thing about Dead & Company for me, is the after all that, there’s still a chance you might get a China-> Rider! BAM! The opening notes send us all into frantic dance mode all over again! The China Rider was blistering and delivered nearly everything you’d expect from a China Rider. You know those jams in Chinacat when Garcia is elaborately decorating the inside of my skull with notes that seem to cover it in vivid colors as the jam spins my brain around like some clay on a pottery wheel? It didn’t deliver that really but it was fantastic! The whole place was every bit as energized as it was during the St Stephen that opened it. My legs seemed to receive abundant new life as the second or third wind kicked in sending US shuffling with explosive gratitude through the stadium. What a night! What a weekend! What a Life it’s been!
In my final reference to the all-knowing algorithms of the obvious, It was Sunday and we were about to finish out the weekend by going to church with Samson and Delilah. Like most of the Dead & Co experience, it was only a couple of drumsticks away from being nearly perfect. Samson has grayed a bit and can’t run as fast as he once could and Delilah is probably gonna need a hip replacement before long. I think we all Love Samson and Delilah forever. While some tunes would seriously benefit from a shot of cocaine, they still possess the same magic that was inherent in them all along. To cap off a weekend that I’ll never forget, I stuck another perfect cartwheel down in the pit following Sam & Del. There were so many things that went right with this weekend that I’m certain I won’t remember the few things that didn’t.
I’ve been a little behind in all my ramblings due to having an increasingly busy life away from Grateful Dead Land so here’s my review of Hartford, Hartford was good.
Don’t forget to enter the amazing Dead & Company Sweepstakes for a chance to see the last five west coast shows in style! Details and entry can be found here!
Love You Long Time!
I just caught the news that Rob Wasserman died… My deepest condolences go out to his family, Bob and all of US… That’s tough news…
Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)
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