Grateful Dead

Jerry in Dekalb

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Garcia '77 by Elliott.jpg
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Mythical Ethical Icicle Tricycle's picture
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Joined: Jul 26 2007
DeKalb 10/29/77

Outstanding! My one and only hometown gig, although I was ten at the time and didn't live there yet. Still, I did manage to go down to the university archives at NIU and find the front page and inside stories from the next day's campus newspaper, which I'll have to scan and post here one of these decades.

I've also perused the NIU student government files in regard to the gig, and some most interesting stuff is in there --an original carbon copy of the space reservation (dated October 16th; more on this below); the technical rider for staging and lighting; and the backstage food and beverage order (you'd be amazed --"China plates, not paper or Chinet," don'tcha know-- and it's kinda funny, as the campus daily did a big writeup the day after the gig about their tour chef, one "Cy" Kocis, whose reported specialty was the healthy vegetarian fare that is ratatouille, and meanwhile the band have got all of these meats and cheeses on the food order --and I ain't judgin'; just reporting).

There's also a letter of complaint from an attendee who demanded a refund for all six tickets purchased because, during setup, the band/crew made the house clear out and relocate a small section of seats for some kind of speaker or lighting equipment, probably due to the goofy floor plan and available overhead space in that miserable venue (refund not granted, as the six who were made to move didn't complain on the spot and admitted in the letter to staying for the entire show).

Anyway, what a magnificent gig. I've heard soundboards that absolutely sizzle and audience tapes that make it sound like it was played in an oil drum sunk sideways into the ground, which is basically what the Evans Fieldhouse is (or was, if they've torn the awful place down by now). DeadBase summed it up in a "must have" appendix as "An almost flawless show," and it sure sounds that way from the soundboards (although the acoustics in there really must've been atrocious for anyone who lived to tell of it).

According to the space reservation, the gig was confirmed on October 16th, less than two weeks before it was played (at a cost to the NIU Student Association of $25,000, payable to Grateful Dead Productions). According to legend, there had been a late cancellation of gig scheduled for that date, and the band were casting about for a quicky replacement gig at a campus in the Illinois/Iowa/Wisconsin area for that Saturday nite.

The Student Association had never put on a gig of anything close to that size and expense, and they had to go thru all kinds of time-consuming bureaucratic rigamarole in order to get authorization to host and fund the thing; it basically amounted to asking for mom and dad's permission.

For the band's part, local lore has it that the band rolled into town not really knowing for sure if they were gonna get paid for their evening's work and that there was a concomitant devil-may-care spirit about them (and a stiff breeze of, shall we say, blizzard force propelling them forth) --to which the extremely energetic "Might As Well" opener certainly would attest, heh heh.

Anyway, a really ballsy performance that nite, if those tapes are anything to go by. Cheers for the pic and for jogging my memory, man.

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Jerry in Dekalb