Well, there weren’t any turds in the Hollywood Bowl. I don’t think most people read much more than the headlines regardless. Dead & Company hit their stride in Hollywood over the past two nights and produced the kind of magic I’ve come to expect from my favorite musicians not named Garcia. Not only did they hit their stride but thankfully, they picked up the pace a bunch. During consecutive nights in L.A., Dead & Co songs kicked the Ambien habit that they have periodically struggled with. From the Shakedown opener on the first night to the encore on the second night, the music was vibrant and fresh.
Shakedown openers typically mean good shit is gonna happen. I don’t know if there are statistics for things like that but if there were, I’m sure that statement would prove itself to be correct. The jams throughout were inspired and the end jam with Oteil scattin and the “Shake It Down Downs” were the beginning of a great double header. Cold Rain and Snow was great and I always Love Black Throated Wind. Ramble On Rose was wild and Jeff’s solo elevated the entire experience. When he’s loud, clear and soloing, Chimenti can make the crowd go as wild as anyone can. Jeff delivers with uncanny consistency! We’re blessed to have him.
That brings me to Cumberland. The Cumberland was great but I think Mickey should give half of his paycheck to Bill. The last member of the band that can’t be heard worth a damn is Mickey. During Cumberland, like most other songs, Mickey is in constant motion. One minute the camera catches him and he’s up there hitting the drums with a flyswatter. I’m not sure if I’m seeing things quite right, but if I’m not mistaken, during Cumberland Mickey was up there knockin some damn clogs together at one point. No shit… Brother had a pair of Dr Scholl’s he was playing with… It’s become hilarious to see what the hell he’s gonna do next. That being said, Dead & Company is just 2 drumsticks away from becoming 100 times more powerful than they already are. With the improvements to Jeff’s volume, Mickey is now the last brother up there that nobody can hear. Change that and the whole thing is gonna be elevated another level!
Althea was great and while the band really pushed the tempo of Promised Land to close the set. Weir was either trying hard to keep up or trying to slow everyone down a little. Like Bertha in Phoenix, the problem was caused by the band moving too fast which is a welcomed change. It was great to see and hear the comfort levels being pushed. I will not forgive you if you will not take the chance.
On to the next elephant in the room… Tiger Woods. Since that brother got caught long dickin half of south Florida, his life has been in a constant downward spiral. It’s a bummer when your mug shot is everywhere. Dude looked like thousands of people at The Hollywood Bowl during Space.
The reason I bring that up is because I got scared when I saw those dogs on the stage at the middle of He’s Gone… I’m pretty certain there’s plenty of Egyptian Kush over there in the O Zone. If those dogs could pick up the weed, I feared the next mug shot might belong to my brother, Oteil… I was praying I wouldn’t be singing He’s Gone about Oteil while he was making license plates somewhere. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. The only bombs that got dropped in L.A. came from his bass!
As a side note, in nearly all Periscope streams, it sounded like the band was interrupting a bunch of meaningless conversations. I’m still waiting to hear a conversation that’s taking place during the music that has any substance at all. I probably won’t ever hear that because people that are capable of having a substantial conversation tend to STFU when the music is playing. The main reason I go way up front for shows is to avoid the extraneous chatter. I heard some folks talking about getting a Miller Lite during Althea. What the fuck is wrong with that person? For one, who among US really drinks Miller Lite? Secondly, who gives a shit during Althea? I’m sure this probably doesn’t apply to anyone that follows this blog so I’ll just STFU…
Help->Slip->Frank was outrageous and Mayer has quickly brushed the dust off of his memory and seems to be catching fire! The entire Slipknot was filled with runs that were uniquely John’s and throughout the duration of the song I couldn’t figure out how anyone couldn’t appreciate what he brings to the experience.
Mickey with a funny hat then Stella followed by a Sugar Mags that was cut really short due to curfew restrictions. That happened last Summer a time or two and the first time they just skipped the encore. The second time, I remember Mayer paid the fine out of his own pocket in order to play the encore. Ripple always makes the world a better place to live…
Moving quickly to night 2, Hell In A Bucket enjoyed the continued benefit of proper tempo and you could tell fairly early it was gonna be one of those special nights. Next Time You See Me gave John all the room he needed to express himself and it was obvious that he had not only the licks but that extra something that gets added to the natural talent making for a supernatural experience. West LA Fadeaway sounded like a song for retired Mobsters residing in Nursing Homes. It experienced absolutely none of the tempo benefits many of the other tunes did and had that awkward spacing between verses but most of you probably thought it was great so I’ll just go fuck myself! Half Step delivers joy and Little Red Rooster caters to Mayer’s innate abilities. After Uncle John’s and New Speedway, U.S. Blues felt like getting an extra one. Tunes like Don’t Ease Me In always seemed better to me when it came across as an extra song to end a set.
Estimated never disappoints and St Stephen is a shot of spiritual adrenaline for everybody! When Terrapin emerged from the Stephen it was clear that it was a night that combined all the essential ingredients for Magic. The songs were right, the mood was right, and the musicians were receiving the music from Above-> Down and from Inside-> Out completely free from the interference that can come from educated thought. Just as U.S. Blues felt like getting an extra tune, The band could’ve been done after Terrapin but instead gave US the Dark Star. It was just about everything you could want from a Dark Star. It was music that forced your experience deeply inward. For those that understand how to utilize the musical vehicle, Dark Star was available if anyone cared to take a deeper look. The jams got inside of me and began producing sweat, detoxifying me of the components that weren’t required. John proved that he can access a place in the experience that’s much deeper than many may have initially assumed.
Due to time constraints, the post Space segment was brief, completing the Dark Star and ending as most of my favorite shows in history have ended, with The Dew. It was fantastic. The parts that required the proper amount of air between notes received them and the parts when the intensity of the experience forced that air out were present and powerful. When the Dew is executed properly, there’s nothing left to say or play. Except for MSG in 87. Good Lovin-> La Bamba-> Good Lovin had something to say!
When I look through my personal experiences following Dead & Company, this may have been one of Mayer’s finest nights in the band. He was aggressive when the situation called for it and able to step back a bit when it would create a better atmosphere for the procession to move through. The song choices played to his strengths and he made the most of every chance he got without overplaying and certainly without coming up short. Thankfully, he refrained for the most part from the horrendous falsetto backup singing. Regardless of what happens the rest of the tour, I think we’ll talk about the second night in Hollywood for decades to come!
Not Fade Away felt just right to end it! In closing, I couldn’t be happier that we’re actively talking about music that’s currently being performed. I obviously love this band and the music and community that I’m a part. There have been some folks that take issue with anyone offering an opinion that doesn’t comply with theirs. I Love them anyway. If I didn’t care deeply about the community, I wouldn’t have taken up a part-time job that pays nothing writing about the experience. Sometimes there’s a turd in the Punchbowl, sometimes that turd is me. So what? I think we’re all happy to be taking the journey and we’re currently living through some more of the days that will cause us to look back and say, “Those were the days!” While those days ended for some in 1995 or well before then, I’m grateful I’m able to enjoy and be moved by the most current configuration of the people providing the Dead Experience. Shoreline will hold surprises for all and I’m really happy that official streams will be running throughout. Going from Nugs to Periscope after 3 songs has been like going from Kind Buds to Brick Weed after 3 hits… It took a while for me to get this out because real life is seriously getting in the way of my Dead & Company experience. I’m outta time! Love You Forever!!! The picture was taken from Matt Weber’s FB Page, Thanks Matt!
Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)
@gd50th on Twitter
Grateful Dean on Facebook