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Flying Saucers, Sombreros, Stars, & Speed Traps

Flying Saucers, Sombreros, Stars, & Speed Traps

This previous summer time, the Grateful Lifeless’s ongoing Dave’s Decide’s CD subscription collection made its first foray into the band’s so-called “dirty eighties” period when it launched the Boise, ID present from September 2, 1983 because the 27th launch since its inception in 2011. It stays a standout present from one of many extra inconsistent eras from the Grateful Lifeless’s 30-year historical past from 1965 to 1995, and after repeated listens, it prompted a deep dive into the 2 weeks of exhibits within the western U.S. that adopted it–and what we re-discovered was an excessive amount of enjoyable to not share.

The so-called “dirty eighties” period ran from March 1983 by means of July 1986, in the midst of an 11-year interval from 1979 to 1990 that featured the longest run of 1 lineup within the band’s historical past: guitarists/vocalists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboardist/vocalist Brent Mydland and drummers Invoice Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. Musically, the “dirty eighties” period is ceaselessly outlined by Jerry Garcia’s inconsistent performances as a result of well being points, however the band continued to promote out arenas as a result of the “on” exhibits, (or the “on” portion of a exhibits) would include uncommon bursts of creativity that got here out of nowhere however then have been virtually by no means repeated. Exhibits from this period can be instantly recognized by Brent Mydland’s polarizing use of a extra synthesized keyboard sound (versus a piano) as his main tone, however this was the period Brent additionally made vital leaps as a artistic contributor out of necessity. He needed to be a lot busier on Garcia’s off-nights, and by the point Garcia’s well being had returned in 1987, Mydland’s capacity to comply with his enjoying and react accordingly bordered on the telepathic.


The Boise present was all the time on the brief record for official launch because it has an incredible efficiency and an amazing setlist, nevertheless it was additionally the primary present of a terrific run for this period. After every week of gigs within the Pacific Northwest (a fertile territory for Grateful Lifeless music from the early days), and nonetheless stays so now that generated momentum, the Boise present kicked off an Eight-show run bolstered by a “secret weapon”: a lovestruck Phil Lesh.

A glance again via Phil Lesh’s memoir Looking for The Sound reveals that the bassist was within the early days of his relationship together with his soon-to-be-spouse Jill (the couple just lately celebrated their 34th anniversary), and he was in search of a method to spend some additional time together with her on the street:

“So I stayed up late one night in Eugene, Oregon, concocting a plan: I would rent a car and we would drive, just the two of us, through Portland and Pendleton on the way to our next gig, Boise – and maybe even from there…we laughed and talked our way across the countryside, picking up local radio stations wherever we could, discovering incredible synchronicities between the places we were and the music we heard.” (SFTS, p. 262)

BOISE – September 2nd

As one may anticipate, Phil was in a fantastic temper on the Boise present, taking a uncommon step to the mike to good-naturedly declare, “Citizens of Boise! Surrender or perish, for you are a conquered people!” earlier than the band eased right into a shock opener of “Wang Dang Doodle” in its second-ever airing, adopted by “Jack Straw”. The rest of the primary set contained a wholesome choice of western-themed songs, however the second set went deep into psychedelic territory with stellar variations of “Help on the Way” > Slipknot > Franklin’s Tower” and “Estimated Prophet” into “Eyes of the World” into an extended Bob & Brent jam.

Sadly, the Dave’s Picks model of the present is bought out and isn’t discovered on streaming providers, however a hyperlink to an viewers recording of the present is right here.

Nevertheless, Boise was solely the start, and it was already removed from a “normal” street journey when Jill and Phil had a real-life shut encounter of the primary variety after the present: “While traveling from Boise to Park City, Utah, we saw a flying saucer streak across the sky in front of us.” SFTS, p. 262

Nicely, then.

PARK CITY – September 4th

The Grateful Lifeless’s subsequent present at Park Metropolis Mountain Resort on September 4th happened in a decidedly informal setting, even for the period–an uncovered stage was arrange subsequent to the resort’s ski raise, and a few well-connected followers have been truly capable of view the daytime present from the balconies of the ski condos located instantly behind the stage. And whereas the Boise present received the nod for a Dave’s Picks launch, the Park Metropolis present might have simply been chosen instead.

A robust 10-song first set kicks issues off, that includes 1983 common and subsequent rarity “Brother Esau”, “Althea”, an early “Hell in A Bucket” and “China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider” to shut. In the meantime, the second began with a standout 27-minute “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire on the Mountain” and a surging sequence of “Spanish Jam” > “Other One” > Wharf Rat” out of area earlier than Bob modified the lyrics all through the “One More Saturday Night” encore to “One More Labor Day Night”.

RED ROCKS – September sixth, seventh and eighth

The legendary Purple Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, a venue carved right into a hillside between two stone monoliths, is a venue that conjured up musical magic from the Grateful Lifeless from 1978 onwards, and Phil didn’t half comprehend it: “I had been talking up Red Rocks and the music we made there all the way from Portland, and I was going to make sure she got some great shows. With a crescent moon in the sky, I showed off for Jill by dropping bass bombs (loud, profoundly percussive low notes or chords) left and right. By the third show I was bopping around the stage with a fiendish grin on my face–it was that much fun.” SFTS, p. 263

The primary night time on September sixth was the band’s third straight exemplary present, with a primary set highlighted by “Bird Song” and one of many Grateful Lifeless’s remaining performances of the much-missed “Lazy Lightning > Supplication”, whereas the second set centered round an interstellar 54-minute journey comprised of “Playing in The Band” > “Drums” > “Space” > “Uncle John’s Band” > “Playing in The Band”.

The second night time on September seventh contained a extra “standard” setlist on paper with the notable exception of “I Need a Miracle” main off a second set for the primary time since 1979, and enjoying remained highly effective and energetic all through. The ultimate night time of the run on September eighth began with the one “Shakedown Street” on this run and a robust “Deal” to shut out the primary set, and the present’s peaks got here from a pre-drums sequence of the second 27-minute “Scarlet > Fire” in every week, adopted by a bass-driven “Estimated Prophet” into “Terrapin Station.”

After the ultimate Pink Rocks present Phil and Jill headed south on the day without work, however they made some extent to undertake a few of the journey after darkish: “We stopped and got out, walking away from the car under the high plains stars. Not quite as an intimate experience as in Egypt, these stars, but more brilliant, more colorful, sharper and clearer. We at first stood, transfixed, then climbed on top of the car to lie on our backs, drinking in the glory.” SFTS, p. 263

SANTA FE – September 10th and 11th

The subsequent morning, Phil and Jill continued south to New Mexico for the subsequent two exhibits on the Downs of Santa Fe racetrack, however not with out incident:

“We cruise over the last rise before the turnoff in Santa Fe, and–what’s this? State police standing on the side of the road, waving everyone over? They pull seven or eight cars, including us, over to the side and give us all speeding tickets. Apparently they’ve been tracking us, along with hundreds of Heads on their way to the show, for thirty miles by plane. So after a thousand miles, the journey ends with a speeding ticket, literally within sight of our destination.” SFTS p. 262-264

That minor setback had no impact on the Santa Fe exhibits, with a pair of weekend daytime exhibits that every happened at 2:00 p.m. The primary present on September 10th encompasses a extremely uncommon set record, almost all the time the signal of a robust present: “The Music Never Stopped” was the shock opener, whereas Phil subsequently donned a big sombrero to the delight of the gang for one of many final first-set appearances of “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” on this slot earlier than its everlasting transfer to the second set. Following a rain-induced intermission the second set kicked off with “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” in its solely second set opener look of 1983, and later got here a five-minute jam after “China Doll” led by Bob and Brent, a uncommon “no ballads” post-drums sequence of “The Other One” > “Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad” > “One More Saturday Night” and an only-time-ever “Cold Rain & Snow” encore as gray skies and rain clouds approached.

The band then celebrated Mickey Hart’s 40th birthday on September 11th by delivering the fourth of the 4 distinctive exhibits from this run. Whereas the 10-song first set was rock strong, the second set rivalled Boise with one other “Help>Slip>Franklin’s” trio, a uncommon second-set look by “Let It Grow” (one among solely seven after 1980), and the tasty post-drums salvo included the still-new “Wang Dang Doodle” (prolonged to just about 11 greasy minutes because of gear issues) into the only “Morning Dew” carried out throughout these Eight exhibits.

AUSTIN – September 13th

Phil and Jill then turned of their rental automotive and flew to Austin with the remainder of the band for the ultimate present of the run on September 13th on the Manor Downs racetrack in Austin, Texas. Whereas this present doesn’t fairly match as much as the earlier exhibits on this run, it’s nonetheless an above-average present by 1983 requirements and serves as a pleasant “encore” to the previous seven. The primary set is about aside by a totally random middle-of-the-set model of “Don’t Ease Me In” (properly away from its traditional place because the set-closer), and the second set’s clear spotlight was the 30-minute “Scarlet > Fire”, adopted by the autobiographical anthem “Truckin,”, which couldn’t be higher positioned for the lucky souls that skilled some (or all!) of this western swing firsthand.

Pleased listening and protected travels!

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