For Throw Back Thursday, I thought it was a great time to salute the people that add so much LIFE and LOVE to everything that has and is happening in Grateful Dead Land. This piece is as relevant today as it was this time last year. So much of what has made last Summer as well as this Summer so special is US. The best fan base in the history of Rock and Roll! It is just as relevant this year as it was last year to tip the hat to the most fun and loving group of people ever assembled from coast to coast, US!!!!
See y’all in Wheatland tomorrow night!!!
In the months leading up to the past 5 Shows, by looking at message boards and forums, particularly the band’s official pages, one might have thought, “There sure are gonna be a lot of horse’s asses heading to the shows…” Lucky for US, every single one of them either stayed home or got completely transformed while travelling to get there. The amount of complaining in the months that preceded all of this was unmatched. At times it was almost embarrassing. Like most things in life, the difficult times gave birth to the creation of brand new groups and places to seek refuge from the storm that was raging from January on. Those groups and the people that started and maintained their vibe deserve a big shout out! There was a lot of time and commitment that went into the greatest pre show celebrations in the history of our scene. Great job to all that took part in the communities that pumped positive vibrations into this celebration from early on and continued throughout. We’ve formed incredible bonds that will last as long as we do and a scene along with a record of it all that will be here long after we’re gone! That’s pretty mind blowing!
So many questions came up in the days and weeks before the shows about all of the rules that were in place. Parking lots… What size bag could you have… On and on and on as if, as Deadheads, we ever gave a shit about the rules. When I checked into my hotel on Thursday I wasn’t sure if I was at The Fare Thee Well Shows or The Cannabis Cup. Every floor of every hotel in all of Chicago smelled like The American Society of Skunk Breeders was in town for a convention. At one point earlier on Thursday, I saw your typical “Type A” Hotel Manager walking briskly through the hall on my floor with a can of Lysol. I couldn’t help but to ask him as he walked by if Lysol had a new line of Marijuana scented products. He didn’t know what to say really. I then told him that he really smelled like Pot and should probably wait until he got out of work to burn one. I looked closely at his name tag and said, “I’m a little surprised at you JAMES.” I had all I could do to keep a straight face and he had all he could do to maintain his managerial smile. I could tell he was getting a little uncomfortable so I said, “You don’t have enough Lysol to make it through the day let alone the weekend bro, Let it go… It’s gonna be a great weekend!!! How about a hug”. I got one of those extremely reluctant type of hugs from James but by the time I saw him Friday Afternoon, he had inhaled enough second hand smoke to loosen him up dramatically. He was a high-fiving, fist bumpin, how about a hug motherfucker of a manager! It reminded of the old days once again. When Deadheads roll into town, we lighten up the mood EVERYWHERE we go! We’ve always done it in a way that’s been completely Kind, completely harmless, and completely hysterical. We give Professional types around us the permission they seem to require to loosen the hell up a little bit and have a good time. All of the interactions I observed through the course of the weekend were Deadheads providing laughter and making employees that were paid to treat them like guests, get treated by Deadheads like WE were in charge of the hospitality. There’s another reason I have to give so much credit to US!!! WE ROCK!!!
As much as I think The City of Chicago was a gracious and magnificent host to all of US, I feel obligated to say that we were the biggest Blessing to come through their city in a long time! Not only was the economic impact ENORMOUS but The Deadhead Community brought a vibe of Peace and Love and Lightheartedness that made Chicago an abundantly better place for everyone while we were there. The only encounters I saw between Deadheads and Chicago natives were interactions that were fun, respectful and loaded with laughter and kindness. We brought Smiles for Miles and passed through Chicago like Leaders of a Better Way Of Life instead of just Followers of a band. The footprint we left behind this time around resembled a piece of art as opposed to a pile of trash. I saw some bumper stickers that took a new take on an old one. The Original Bumper Stickers said, “THERE Is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert”. The stickers I saw said “THIS Is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert”. The only thing I could think of when I saw them was, “THIS poor fuck must have only toured in 95”. I got off of the full time bus after 93 because it was becoming less and less like a Grateful Dead Show then… If that person only toured in 95 they were right… The past 5 shows were Nothing like a Grateful Dead Concert in 95… There was no Gate Crashing, No Drunk Fraternity Dickheads, No Tear gas and just about zero hassles… While I’m sure it seemed like a cute idea a month or 2 ago, the reality was GD 50 in 2015 seemed MUCH more like a Grateful Dead Show than just about all of 94 and 95 did. I imagine that sumbitch has plenty of bumper stickers left. The scene all around the venues as well as inside of these shows was absolutely everything that was always right and great about the Grateful Dead Experience. I saw another crew trying to sell shirts that said “F*CK YOU, PAY ME!” (The guy that runs the Fare The Well Satirical site saw this post and just sent me a picture he took of the shirt in Chicago)
They seemed like OK folks but their idea lacked any creativity or intelligence at all. I would imagine somebody thought it might be funny but it wasn’t. I sat in that tunnel and watched them for a half hour as they not only sold absolutely NOTHING but didn’t get a single laugh either. I’m sure they thought it was a cute idea too but they went home with about 4 less shirts than they came with. While stuff like that may garner a few comments on message boards filled with dumb shits, it wasn’t selling at Soldier Field. Their attempts to get paid themselves got a big F*CK YOU from the universe. Maybe once they try etsy or ebay and sell none of them there either, they’ll do the right thing and donate them to a homeless shelter to be used as ass rags… I’m sure they won’t be selling many… Attempting to Perpetuate shitty vibes doesn’t sell on Tour… Never did, Never Will…
There’s a lot of groups that planned big parties the past 2 weekends. They had great ideas and were willing to spend money to execute them. Take some of those VIP Tailgate parties for example. They had an idea and a budget and all kinds of special shit planned. Most of them were absolute busts. They had a bunch of fancy food, amenities and live music. They weren’t worth a shit in the long run because they didn’t have many of US! A party is only as good as the folks that decide to show up for it. The Grateful Dead agreed to throw a party and Peter Shapiro did an outstanding job as the Party Planner but what made it the greatest party in the world that weekend was US!!!
The people that I was surrounded by all weekend were just like the people you were surrounded by all weekend. We danced together, we laughed together, we cried together. WE had a HUGE part in providing the kind of environment the band needed to do what they did. Without US there is no them. Dancing to our favorite tunes with our favorite musicians was incredible. I cherish the moments I had with people 3, 4, 5 or 6 rows away from me. Those folks that in the midst of joyously dancing you’d make eye contact with and smile. We were all deep in the soup together and even if we didn’t meet face to face our bonds are no less significant. I can remember all the faces I shared those moments with throughout the weekend and there were many of those great moments with many great people that all form the incredible family known as US!!! Just as much as we’ve spoken highly of the organizers and the band, I was never so proud to be a Deadhead as I was the past couple of weekends. Nothing could be better than sharing so many moments with those that are cut from the very same cloth as I am. The cloth may have some ragged edges and there maybe some folks that seem to come from a little further from the center of the cloth but the cloth in its entirety is what makes up US!!! The only place I can find as much commonality and consistency in that fabric has always been at Dead Shows. It’s the only place we can all go and experience everything that represents US. What happens from here? Some like Phish, Some don’t. Some like WSP, Some don’t. The only place we can all agree is right there where we’ve been the past couple of weeks. As much as I dig all of the projects put together by all of my favorite musicians, it’s never the same experience because it’s missing too many of US. Billy and The Kids make some great music. Phil and his Friends make some great music. RatDog makes some great music. There’s something I’ve yet to experience at any of those shows however that I experienced over the past 2 weeks. What happens when those guys all drop the other stuff, play together and add all of US! The Music grows wings and goes to another place altogether. It goes from being Music to Transcendental Magic. A song becomes a supernatural experience… It’s a place that none of them can quite get to individually and a place that doesn’t even exist without US! In the future they will decide to make music and sing songs or continue creating Supernatural Magic, they certainly know how to find US!
In one of the last pieces I’ll write as it pertains to GD 50, I thought it was important to give credit where credit is due and that would be completely incomplete if it didn’t include the most important thing in our community… US!!! It wouldn’t mean anything for me to write if it wasn’t for YOU! I could never tell you all how much I appreciate YOU for making it a pleasure to provide whatever I could throughout this whole thing. The best thing about that is I’m just another one of YOU that makes up a collection of characters called US!!! We make up the greatest and most committed fan base in the History of Music. We may be fortunate to have experienced all or part of the 50 greatest years of live music that history will ever know but no more fortunate than the band has been to have had US!!!
Love You Long Time!!!
Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)
The Photos are from Jay Blakesberg. He always takes tremendous pics.