Night 3 in Mexico and night 2 for Dead & Company was another blast of everything we love most. For one, we’re not working, we’re all sitting on the beach or the pool and eating an assload of mediocre food. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when food is included at a resort or a cruise, it’s like air being included in a Porta John. Also, since we’ve been paying for this shit for a year, it almost seems free at this point. I imagine there still might be some folks looking for their room since night 1. If you get too spun at this place, you’ll be trying your key in all 5,000 rooms that are pretty much in identical looking buildings. I’ve seen a few fuckers looking for their room since Thursday. Imagine if everyone drove a white Volkswagen what it would be like finding your car in a parking lot. Nowadays, I just start walking through parking lots clicking my panic button waiting for my car to let me know where the hell I parked it. That shit doesn’t work with room keys but it probably should in a place like this. Almost 25 years clean and still space shit like that. Anyway, finding your room around here can be pretty similar if your head is on a little crooked.

Aside from the jokes and small issues, the scene here is amazing! A bunch of Dead Heads in a beautiful place being beautiful together for the most part. CID does a great job at the venue providing ample drinks and food for everybody in a pretty efficient fashion. The food in the venue is definitely an upgrade from what you might expect. The resort staff works very hard to meet the needs and requests of their guests and are pleasant and accommodating as they could possibly be. Props to both The Barcelo and CID for really putting in the effort to make everyone happy at every turn.

On with the music! The first thing I’m absolutely thrilled to say is that after 3 years, the band’s mix is fantastic! Oteil got some much needed volume and Jeff sounds great! Oteil is using a pick much more which probably changes things a little bit as well. Even when he wasn’t, his sound was much improved. It’s dialed in just right if you ask me.

The night started off with a rockin Shakedown and that’s always been a good sign of things to come. The sound was coming at us loud and clear and packed with particles of energy that can’t be measured, only experienced. Mayer came out wearing a shirt he bought off of a guy at Jiffy Lube. Brother looked like he just got done working a 9 to 5 changing oil and shit. Love him forever! Shakedown finished with some lyrics from Billy Preston’s Will It Go Round in Circles. I thought that was a great touch since I absolutely love that tune! Cold Rain and Snow followed and my wife and I laughed as people from home posted pics of the foot of snow that fell today. That shit makes ya happy when you’re looking at it from the beach in Mexico! Great jams that were strong and supremely confident as my kids insisted on being on my shoulders constantly. Between the 2 of em, it’s hard to believe but I might actually be shorter at this point from dancing with them up there. Big shout out to my brother Sander and a couple of others who helped for a few tunes with my son. People have been so tremendously kind to my kids here all weekend! I can’t thank y’all enough! Loser followed and I don’t know what the last fair deal in the country is anymore but it’s probably not Dead & Company. Jack Straw gave us the horses running on the screens and for some reason, that shit always makes me happy. Easy Wind was next up and an appropriate song for people who have been living on Mexican Buffet for almost a week. Tennessee Jed took all the musical turns that a song about absolutely nothing can take. When John wants to let it all hang out, Sugaree is his favorite lady! It was no different last night as John delivered time and time again throughout that one. You can be sure Mayer is gonna hit Sugaree in the ole G Spot every damn time. Pretty much everybody gets a turn on that tune as the climaxes are multiple and everybody is throwing everything they’ve got into that party! That probably would’ve been good enough but we got Ripple as well to close out a great half of music.

Second sets just about always determine the fate of a show’s standing in our memory and very few shows that I can think of, I remember for their first sets. There are probably a few, Atlanta on April Fool’s day in 90 or the New Speedway bust out at Oakland, February 19, 1991, after over 20 years. There’s the Box Of Rain from Hampton, 3/20/86 for the first time in 13 years that stands out as well but only for the botched Box bust out. Weir saying, “This goes to prove that practice makes perfect” right before Phil drove the first few lines right into a ditch. That entire first set is actually awful but playing Box erased anything else that could happen that night.

The energy was off the charts as Dead & Co took the stage for the second set on Saturday and you could hear some Chinacat teases before that gnarly, stanky chord that starts the sonic voyage of Viola Lee Blues. During the fat and furious jams of Viola Lee you could hear the Chinacat peeking through on several occasions. The jams came in waves like the ocean that we were boogieing beside and the Chinacat that had been heard throughout Viola Lee emerged as naturally as the Chinacat turns to the Rider. Magic was on tap and it was relentless. I was dancing so hard during the transition into I Know You Rider that I was digging myself into a hole in the fuckin sand. My dance moves were so remarkable that the entire crowd roared this enormous cheer of approval. At least that’s what I thought until I looked toward the stage and saw Kid Rock in dreadlocks. Then I shook that shit off and realized it was Michael Franti and Spearhead coming out to take part in the best Rider I’ve heard Dead & Company play. The jams were hitting hard and tight and the level of hive mind synchronicity that was happening made it one of those moments that take your mind and put it through the washing machine. As our bodies flailed together, I caught the smiles of so many folks around me as that nonverbal signal of identification was widespread. John returned to some Chinacat licks during the solo that finished the Rider. If you didn’t hear the show, that Rider lives forever!!!

Then they did Comes a If I Had The World To Give. Basically it was supposed to be Comes A Time and John played those teardrops that fall at the beginning of Comes a Time then accidentally played the first line of If I Had The World to Give. Everybody stopped, laughed it off and were still probably high from the smoke that was coming off of that Rider. After that, Oteil sang a Comes A Time that could save a broken marriage. It was beautiful and deep and the meaning for me personally covered a multitude of challenges both internally and externally. They could’ve been done after that but Deal made sure we would sweat it out once again before Drums. The first half of the second set was hotter than Irish skin after 3 days in the Mexican sun.

Drums was great and Mickey licked the beam. I wanna see that like I wanna watch Senior Citizen Porn… Fuckin Mickey… Love Him Forever! Brother is the best! Out of Space you get Standing On The Moon that had some great moments followed by a Wheel that regained some of the power from the past, mostly due to Oteil’s volume being way up and that dude slaying it! It got a little sloppy in a spot or two but we’re full of grace at this point. Sugar Mags sounded for the first half like the batteries were running out on the Boom Box. Shit was slower than a fat dude with 2 sprained ankles jogging on the beach. Once everybody started digging into it, it got a little wind under it and Oteil and Jeff collectively helped that fucker take flight into The Sunshine Daydream. It ended much better than it started which always helps. No surprise they encored with Saturday Night and they made up for the absence of pace with a fantastic swing that was all over that one. It was another stellar day and night in Mexico and it’s hard to believe we’re almost out of here. Enjoy y’all! Love You Long Time! See ya on the beach or by the pool or at the show!

Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)

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