By Saturday afternoon in Boston, it felt like everything had suddenly changed… Clam Fam Paparazzi Jennifer Cinelli was the first to report on the phenomenon after catching my friend, Bob Municchi out on the town for lunch. Just when you didn’t think it could get any stranger, it did… After the scorched mind experience of Friday at Fenway, we all woke up realizing we were molecularly different than before. Our thoughts seemed to contain more thoughtfulness… Our perceptions were more perceptive… We had a renewed sense of self-confidence and Mayer gave the community a new boldness to be whatever we wanted to be and wear whatever we wanted to wear. After all, “It doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there” and all that shit… I never thought it could happen to someone like my pal Bob but the Influence is REAL!
The vibe around the stadium was a little different on Saturday and free tickets tightened up a bit as did dramatically reduced floor seats. Some of each were still available but not nearly as many as there was on Friday. The Weekend Warriors were out and about as the city of Boston continued to bubble like boiling lava. If you have ever seen boiling lava, it’s quite a thing to behold. The earth’s internal substance coming up through the surface and containing such a powerful, slow-moving yet completely consuming procession. Locals coming to visit the Dead Community without any real commitment to it, tend to be more like brush fires than lava but I’ll get back to that later. The energy that makes a city like Bean Town bubble and drives the experience was omnipotent and impossible to be denied.
I was on my own in Boston and had to work the scene just like anybody else. It felt good to be back to hustlin, movin and shakin. After trying to score a Pit ticket up until about 6:15 with no luck, I walked up to the box office and told them to give me the best they had. It ended up being a ticket in the first row of reserved seating behind the Pit, on the aisle of Section A5! Front and center! How the hell was that ticket still available 15 minutes before showtime? I still wasn’t gonna sit there most likely but it was a great backup plan. I headed into the stadium as quickly as possible and ultimately ended up in the same spot I was on Friday night, on the Rail, Oteil Side. Thanks to my sister Debbie for helping out on that one! If ya can’t get hooked up, Ya gotta hook it up yourself!
The night started with a little jam to get everyone dialed in before turning into Truckin. We were underway once again and the machine was moving ahead with power and precision. I’m happy to report that the tension that has been missing from the jam at the end of Truckin has found its way back. The tornado of sound began winding itself up and gathering all of the energy it could from the atmosphere WE provided. Once it gathered more than it could contain any longer, the band collectively pulled the plug from the tub and the vast amount of pent-up tension was released along the fattest string of Oteil’s bass. Big River followed and was a treat for the feet! The Dance Party was ignited and we continued the rage that began on Friday. While most tunes have found their tempos slowed down a bit, They Love Each Other seemed to be picked up a little bit. All of a sudden from deep within me, My body started Poppin and Lockin. I never realized how sharp of a Robot you can dance to TLEO. I was hitting hard to the intense jams and making sharp cuts as I Robotted my way through that one! Donna was with US again and she was feeling every moment of it and with all the happiness she could possibly express. Once The Deal started going down, the show began to go through massive acceleration. It was like on Star Trek when the Enterprise goes to Warp Speed.
The Deal got US shaking our bones hard enough to get close to a heat stroke. It was one of those moments when you boogie so hard that you can feel the water in your cells beginning to simmer and head toward a boil as steam begins to pass through you from the inside-> out. We were cutting more rug than a toupet manufacturer! I was grateful for a chance to slow down the body while keeping the mind fully active with Birdsong. While the body may get a chance to slow down, the jams in Birdsong are like CrossFit for the mind. Listen specifically to Oteil on that one when you get the soundboards. He was dropping more licks than a cat with a case of itchy butt. I’ve completely loved Passenger being played even though I’m not sure it has been played so good yet. That one finds some awkward spots. You know when you’re walking through the hallways and you’re heading directly into someone else and you both try to move but you move the same way at the same time? Then you both switch ways at the same time and it happens over and over again. The way Passenger has sounded, it could be the theme music for those experiences… I still LOVE it forever! GDTRFB is a fantastic way to bring a set to a close and we got it in all its glory! Everybody was throwing logs on the fire all at once. The inferno grew as it moved forward and the whole band was simultaneously KILLIN IT! Every instrument was wide open and willing. Donna had her groove on and was feelin sexy as could be! Oteil got him some cornbread and Beans! Weir was throwing chords around, Mayer was in full Derp face mode, Jeff was blazing the keys but you still couldn’t hear him nearly as loud as you should. Billy was chewing the hell out of his gum and Mickey was basting chicken and ribs like a motherfucker! That jam took all of US to the top of the tidal wave before we wildly rode down the face of that wave and headed home! What a ragin first set!
There’s always been a bunch of different textures that take place during the course of a tour. Different sets present different colors and resonate from different places. The first three sets of Boston were totally Raging! As much as we all LOVE to rage, The Second Set on Saturday turned from Rage to Reverence before turning back to Rage before going back to Reverence before Raging again. It kicked off with Playin which is a musical open door to a world of possibilities. It was given its proper extensions and chaotic infusions that continued to keep the mind on a treadmill much like Birdsong. Those passages just seem to force a world of thoughts through your mind whether you’re prepared for them or not. I remember early in my years with The Dead, that train of inevitable thought that would get forced through my mind would be almost too consuming to deal with. The longer you stayed around, the better you learned how to relax and just let it pass through you. As a young person, I would get attached to the thoughts that those jams would race through my brain and have times of confusion and disorientation. The more I studied the Acid Test, the more I was able to realize that the stream of ideas was simply passing through my head and I wasn’t obligated to entertain or attach myself to any of them. I learned how to let each thought in each moment pass by and laugh at those that didn’t fall into alignment with my highest priorities and ideals. I realized how much information was flying through the air at any given time and how, if accessed properly, they had the potential to transform all areas of my life for the better. I also realized that if accessed and utilized improperly, ideas from that same stream could lead deeper into confusion and disorder. It was easy to look around during those jams and see who was experiencing which end of that equation. Far Out Stuff…
One of my favorite Weir tunes, Estimated was born out of Playin and Bob was on full display! Confident and engaged he wasn’t lead by the song, He was completely in charge of it. For some more of Oteil’s finest stuff, relisten to the end of that jam when ya get a chance. Brother was mailing notes into space like the Cosmic Post Office of Life. Continuing with a theme of total reverence, He’s Gone created a hue in the air that is reminiscent of a beautiful sunset over a graveyard. A song filled with bumper sticker worthy verses that have been a staple of our language for decades. You could smile through the eeriness but couldn’t deny its existence.
A friend of mine flew into Boston sitting next to a guy that is part of Dead & Company’s Management Team. According to the conversation, Dead & Co, at least with Mayer on guitar, are done for quite a while after this Summer. The guy said Mayer was signed for a solo gig on New Year’s Eve which surprised me. I personally thought the Forum was already booked for New Year’s shows. The guy said that after Shoreline it would probably be a year and a half before Mayer was available to do much of anything with Dead & Co. due to his contractual obligations and personal commitments. I can’t confirm if any of that is true but it’s info that was passed along from a friend. I hope it’s not true, but I had the conversation earlier in the day Saturday. This paragraph is here for a reason…
Sugaree was a real surprise in the middle of the second set and following He’s Gone, It was sluggish but steady. From the beginning of this band, Sugaree has been one of Mayer’s best tunes. Saturday was no exception. The solos throughout the song were intense and seemed to revolve around an imaginary axis of power and raw emotion. As a song I always loved from the first time I heard it, the decades of my love the tune seemed to spark an unexpected and incredibly deep appreciation for every single moment I was experiencing. As much as I’ve been in support of Mayer’s involvement with our favorite musicians from the beginning and will always appreciate his contribution to the past year, it all hit me during Sugaree. The reason I’ve had this deep love for John is because he’s paid homage to the greatest songbook in history with dignity and respect. He has come out every night and poured 100% of what he’s capable of providing into everything he’s played. He put his own personal stuff on hold to take the greatest musical adventure that history will ever know with all of US. Sound familiar? Over the years, I’ve been drawn again and again into the circus that is Grateful Dead Land. I’ve often put anything that has to do with my own shit in life on hold. Never mind “On Hold” I’ve spent decades just straight up cancelling shit to stay on board the greatest musical adventure that life has to offer. What the hell am I even doing wasting all this time writing about it for?
Back to the point… During Sugaree while John was singing, “Please forget you knew my name” it hit me… This music and this experience will move on with or without him. If it’s with him, I’ll celebrate with him! If it’s without him, I’ll forget I knew his name quicker than I forgot the names of every other joker that passed through our scene for a tour or two before moving on. It has been a fantastic run but I’m not nearly as attached to the Singer as I am The Song. I’ll totally forget I knew his name in a heartbeat… Regardless, Sugaree was outstanding! Then FIRE! C’Mon! Really? YUP! It was interesting to find out later that Sailor->Saint was on the set list. Sugaree-> Fire was definitely a more unique and pleasant surprise! It was the Rage that was born out of the Reverence. At one point in The Fire On The Mountain, the jams got so massive that it caused gusts of wind to rise up out of complete stillness. I know you know what I mean…
Following a raging Drums and Space, we returned back to Reverence once again with The Days Between. The mood created by the band musically in that tune is so special. The auditory canvas is so rich with emotion and the air gets thicker and possesses a quality about it that forces so many layers of the human experience to be peeled off of US. Weir sang it with a brilliance that was haunting when it had to be with brief moments of relief scattered throughout. For many of US, we hadn’t completely grown into our shoes when that tune was first born. Like most of Hunter’s finest pieces, with every year that passes there’s a deeper familiarity found within the journey of that song. It melted away into the pensive stillness of the night. The deep place that the Garcia ballad slot in the show has always left US was quickly replaced by another reliable slot. That has always been Weir’s Revival Slot. The time in the show where it becomes obvious that regardless of the depths associated with the journey, we’re gonna find Joy, Love, Peace and Victory as long as we continue moving forward. The time of Restoration came forward with Not Fade Away and The Love we shared illuminated that stadium in ways that only one of US could understand. From total Reverence back to Ragin’ all over again! At that point he encore was obvious and delivered as always!
When I started writing this, I talked a little about bubbling, boiling Lava. The internal substance of the earth coming up through the surface. My experience in Boston this weekend was like that. I let the music do what the music does and was completely surrendered to the experience. Like Lava, the substance of my soul came bubbling through the surface. It was a slow moving yet completely consuming procession. Through the course of the weekend I gave myself completely to the experience. Sometimes when lava begins flowing, certain things in its path are completely incinerated. In Grateful Dead Land, the thoughts and ideas that attempt to stand in opposition to our progress in life are incinerated. While the process often passes by brush fires along the way, those that have consistently made the decision to be fully committed to the higher possibilities that are available for continued internal growth, the end result is evident… Our outsides may appear a little more grizzled than they used to be but the real change is apparent on the inside…
Love You Forever! It all heads West… See y’all somewhere sometime soon! This one may be a little choppy, it’s taken me 2 days in short spurts to get it written. Life is getting in the way…
Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)
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