As the evening progressed, I picked up some dinner (a kind veggie burrito, in case you were wondering) and met up with my friends from home. We wandered the lot a little more, then headed inside. The cattle chute was full of people moving forward, heading inside the colosseum. My seat was in a different section than theirs, so we parted ways after getting inside.
The anticipation of the show was starting to build, then a few minutes late – naturally – Bob Weir and company walked out on stage.
They started off with Music Never Stopped. Very appropriate, I thought. I started taking pictures and while I had good seats for taking pictures, I didn’t have my good camera for zooming in. That didn’t stop me from trying, though! I was able to get a few decent pictures, but more were not so.
Back in the day (and I can say this because I’m 30-something) when I went to shows, I carried a small notebook to write down the songs the band would play. I did that again this time. I squinted against the flashing stage lights, seeing just enough to scribble Jack Straw, the second song they played.
Concerts are wonderful things. There’s an energy pulsing through the air that just can’t be felt anywhere else. As I stood there – ok, check that – as I danced, I looked around the place at all the different souls moving in time with the music. I was struck with how things have changed so much in the 14 years since I’ve seen the Dead play. Technology has certainly moved in. Cell phones were everywhere. You could see their glowing pinpoints of light throughout the colosseum.
Estimated Prophet was the next song they meandered into. Maybe I should explain something to my readers who have never been to a Dead show. They don’t stop and start like a typical band. Their music flows together like a river, from one song to another, with occasional breaks in the water for switching guitars or adjusting sound equipment, like getting caught in an eddy behind a big rock before moving around and down the river again.
Back in the day (you’ll see this a lot, I’m afraid), they didn’t follow a visible set list. I’m sure they had a way of communicating with each other for what would come next, but I never saw it. This time around, they had a set list laying on the stage in front of each of them. I chuckled about that, actually.
They jammed right into He’s Gone and the whole place erupted louder than it had before (if that’s possible). The Music Never Stopped and He’s Gone were very appropriate to start off the spring tour. Again, I was hit with technology over the head. As I was scribbling down my song notes, I noticed the woman in front of me was typing them into her cell phone. I had to laugh. I realized that if I were to google “The Dead set list April 12”, I would get tons of hits right away. We have certainly come a long way in 14 years.
To finish out the first set, they played Touch of Grey, I Need a Miracle and Truckin’ then cleared the stage for a break. I’ll take this opportunity to explain that I’m getting a little “old” for the concert experience. Sorta. I love the music and dancing. I’m not entirely sure I sat for more than a minute or two the whole time they played. However, I’m not a big fan of smoking (of anything) nor am I a big fan of drunk partiers. If I could have had a 5 foot bubble around me, I would have had an even better time. It was not to be, though.
A thirty-something woman at a concert by herself lends a certain, shall we say, curiosity to some around her. But luckily only on one side of me. On the other side of me was a young-ish couple from Raleigh and they seemed really nice. The folks sitting in the row in front of me was probably in their 30-40’s and seemed like they had been at shows numerous times before (she was the one with the cell phone set list) and behind me to the right was a couple probably in their 50’s and there for the music as well. But there was a group of people to my left who weren’t so…. into the scene. They had obviously been drinking in the parking lot for a while and had reached that obnoxious stage. I found out from the chatty one that he hadn’t been to a show before but his brothers had and so he came with them.
He also asked me if it bothered me that there was no way to know what they were playing next. Umm, no. This is a Dead show, you never know what they’re playing next. Part of the fun is guessing. We talked briefly during the break (because I was raised a good southern girl and just can’t be rude to someone) but I was glad for the music to start back up. Then I could safely dance and listen to the music and ignore the others.
The Dead opened the next set with Shakedown Street. Again, a classic, and the audience made lots of noise. Even more noise built when they went into All Along the Watchtower. Their jams lasted longer during the second set, going from Caution into their Drums/Space jam. Let me just say, I big puffy heart drums and Mickey Hart. I really big puffy heart dancing to that deep resounding rhythm that pounds deep, keeping time with the beats of the heart. I wanted to bad to just get crazy and dance like a fool (because I sure would have looked like one) but there just wasn’t enough room. So I had to settle with seat-dancing with my eyes closed.
The finished out their set with Cosmic Charlie > New Potato Caboose > Help on the Way > Slipknot then finishing with Franklin’s Tower. During the break, Phil Lesh came out and spoke briefly on the importance of being an organ donor and for the encore they played Sampson and Delilah.
All in all, it was a great time. It wasn’t like it used to be, but then nothing ever is, but it was most definitely a great time. I would totally do it again.