• March 18, 2011
    http://www.dead.net/features/blairs-golden-road-blog/blairs-golden-road-blog-instant-gratification
    Blair's Golden Road Blog - Instant Gratification

    I just got off YouTube, where I was watching a sharp video of Furthur doing their version of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” last night (3/11/11) at the Best Buy Theater in NYC. I’d followed the progress of the show in the “Furthur” conference on DeadNetCentral.com while it was happening Friday night—one of the site’s administrators, whose nom de web is Dire Wolf, faithfully reports the name of each song as it’s played. So when I went to bed I knew the band had played that Abbey Road gem (not exactly a surprise if you’d been following the tour — they unveiled a different song from AR each night in the same sequence and song position as the album; and then did the whole big Side Two medley on Phil's birthday). But at that point we didn’t have any info on who had sung it; all we had was the title. Thanks to the YouTube video, I learned that Bob sang it; really good version, too. Much better than “Oh, Darling,” for sure.

    Now, had this been a few nights earlier, during Furthur’s three-night run at Boston’s intimate Orpheum Theater, I could have heard it live as it happened. You see, there was a guy inside the Orpheum with little shotgun microphones and a Sound Devices 744 digital recorder (the same kind used by film sound effects and production recordists; top-of-the line stuff), and somehow he was able to discreetly transmit the show live over a cell phone to a site that uploaded the signal and let us listen to it on the Internet. The quality wasn’t fantastic, but after a lifetime of listening to some really poor-quality tapes of really good Dead and Jerry Band shows, I’ve trained my ears to listen through noise, distortion, echo, whatever, and hear what’s actually going on in the music. So, sitting at my computer, taking care of some work needs, I was blasting those Boston shows, all the while conversing with other folks doing the same on DNC. Good times! And when it was dinnertime and I had to retreat to the kitchen for a spell, I just cranked it up louder. My computer speakers don’t quite manage “concert volume,” as we call it, but they’re decent; I didn’t miss much.

    Then, the following day, in late morning here on the Left Coast, word suddenly spread on the Internet that gdradio.net was broadcasting a soundboard recording from the previous night’s show (as they had the day after other concerts on the tour). Schweeet! Between those kinds of sources and Archive.org, where fine audience recordings are often available to stream (or download) by the next day, it’s never been easier to follow a tour as it happens. (And people who attend a show can buy an official recording before they leave the venue and listen to it on the ride home, if they like.)

    Then, too, I always get an email alert either the day after a show, or a day later, alerting me that I can buy soundboard downloads from Livedownloads.com. I’ve bought a number of Furthur FLAC downloads the last couple of years — sometimes after first listening to audience versions of the show on Archive, but more often just based on the song list. I like to be surprised, and I have yet to be disappointed with one of my purchases.

    (This just in: As I’m writing this on Saturday morning (3/12) around 11 a.m., last night’s Best Buy show has just started streaming on gdradio.net: “Greatest Story”; nice! Thank you, Furthur!)

    Needless to say, things are a bit different today than they were in the Grateful Dead era. Back when we were putting out The Golden Road magazine (’84-’93), we relied on the kindness of friends who were on tour following the band to call us from the road, either late at night after a show or the next day, to run down the set list from a pay phone or hotel room. It was something we really looked forward to because it had an intimacy and immediacy — we could hear the excitement in our friend’s voice, we could relive it with him as he recalled the show (or struggled to: “Wait, there was a ‘Me & My Uncle’ in there after ‘Far From Me,’ before the ‘Bird Song’!”), and if he was high enough, it was often hilarious. Even second-hand accounts (“I just got the call from Sundance — wait till you hear this list!”) were thrilling.

    Life in 1987: "Here ya go,
    Mr. Jackson, your fall tour
    tapes have arrived!"

    As for actually hearing the show, well, we always had to wait for the end of the tour and for another kind Head to send us audience tapes via the good ol’ U.S. Mail. Sometimes it would be weeks before certain shows arrived. Ah, but what a wonder to find that parcel in our mailbox!

    By the Dead’s later days, the Internet was well-established, and you could usually find set lists on Well.com or Rec.music.gdead and probably other places, too, but as a troglodyte in good standing, I didn’t even have the Internet at home until after Jerry died. I was late getting a cell phone, too, and was totally mystified the first couple of times I took my then-young kids to concerts of what was then “their” music and all their peers would be crowded around the stage holding cell phones aloft taking pictures of the stage or, as likely, holding their cell cameras at arm’s length and taking shots of themselves with the band a blur in the background. I remember seeing the Black Eyed Peas at an arena with my daughter and will.i.am asked everyone to turn on their cell phones and wave them in the air—it was quite a sight; I guess it’s the 21st century equivalent of my generation lighting matches of approval.

    Cell phone photos are so 2007, though. Now, everyone (except me) has a smart phone with high quality video capabilities and more memory, allowing same-day or next-day uploading of entire songs onto YouTube or Facebook or wherever. There’s a video of “The Other One” from the 3/10 Best Buy concert that went up on YouTube the following morning that blew my mind: it was mostly astonishingly clear closeups of the guitarists’ hands, and the audio quality was excellent to boot. Trust me, if the Grateful Dead was still touring, every minute of every song (in varying degrees of quality) would be on YouTube the next morning.

    Is that a good thing? I guess. I’m sure I’d be right there watching every clip (in order, of course). But I also can’t help thinking that something — some amount of connectivity — is lost when so many people in the crowd are distracted by the incessant cell phone activity (photos/video/Internet searching/phone calls) that is evident at every show by almost any band these days. But I suppose it’s just par for the course in this distracted, multitasking age.

    What do you think? Has the avalanche of new technologies and new ways to listen to and see bands affected your overall enjoyment of music in any way? Does access to so much free music make you less inclined to buy music or go see bands live? Or are you discovering cool new things on the Web?

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I just got off YouTube, where I was watching a sharp video of Furthur doing their version of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” last night (3/11/11) at the Best Buy Theater in NYC. I’d followed the progress of the show in the “Furthur” conference on DeadNetCentral.com while it was happening Friday night—one of the site’s administrators, whose nom de web is Dire Wolf, faithfully reports the name of each song as it’s played. So when I went to bed I knew the band had played that Abbey Road gem (not exactly a surprise if you’d been following the tour — they unveiled a different song from AR each night in the same sequence and song position as the album; and then did the whole big Side Two medley on Phil's birthday). But at that point we didn’t have any info on who had sung it; all we had was the title. Thanks to the YouTube video, I learned that Bob sang it; really good version, too. Much better than “Oh, Darling,” for sure.

Now, had this been a few nights earlier, during Furthur’s three-night run at Boston’s intimate Orpheum Theater, I could have heard it live as it happened. You see, there was a guy inside the Orpheum with little shotgun microphones and a Sound Devices 744 digital recorder (the same kind used by film sound effects and production recordists; top-of-the line stuff), and somehow he was able to discreetly transmit the show live over a cell phone to a site that uploaded the signal and let us listen to it on the Internet. The quality wasn’t fantastic, but after a lifetime of listening to some really poor-quality tapes of really good Dead and Jerry Band shows, I’ve trained my ears to listen through noise, distortion, echo, whatever, and hear what’s actually going on in the music. So, sitting at my computer, taking care of some work needs, I was blasting those Boston shows, all the while conversing with other folks doing the same on DNC. Good times! And when it was dinnertime and I had to retreat to the kitchen for a spell, I just cranked it up louder. My computer speakers don’t quite manage “concert volume,” as we call it, but they’re decent; I didn’t miss much.

Then, the following day, in late morning here on the Left Coast, word suddenly spread on the Internet that gdradio.net was broadcasting a soundboard recording from the previous night’s show (as they had the day after other concerts on the tour). Schweeet! Between those kinds of sources and Archive.org, where fine audience recordings are often available to stream (or download) by the next day, it’s never been easier to follow a tour as it happens. (And people who attend a show can buy an official recording before they leave the venue and listen to it on the ride home, if they like.)

Then, too, I always get an email alert either the day after a show, or a day later, alerting me that I can buy soundboard downloads from Livedownloads.com. I’ve bought a number of Furthur FLAC downloads the last couple of years — sometimes after first listening to audience versions of the show on Archive, but more often just based on the song list. I like to be surprised, and I have yet to be disappointed with one of my purchases.

(This just in: As I’m writing this on Saturday morning (3/12) around 11 a.m., last night’s Best Buy show has just started streaming on gdradio.net: “Greatest Story”; nice! Thank you, Furthur!)

Needless to say, things are a bit different today than they were in the Grateful Dead era. Back when we were putting out The Golden Road magazine (’84-’93), we relied on the kindness of friends who were on tour following the band to call us from the road, either late at night after a show or the next day, to run down the set list from a pay phone or hotel room. It was something we really looked forward to because it had an intimacy and immediacy — we could hear the excitement in our friend’s voice, we could relive it with him as he recalled the show (or struggled to: “Wait, there was a ‘Me & My Uncle’ in there after ‘Far From Me,’ before the ‘Bird Song’!”), and if he was high enough, it was often hilarious. Even second-hand accounts (“I just got the call from Sundance — wait till you hear this list!”) were thrilling.

Life in 1987: "Here ya go,
Mr. Jackson, your fall tour
tapes have arrived!"

As for actually hearing the show, well, we always had to wait for the end of the tour and for another kind Head to send us audience tapes via the good ol’ U.S. Mail. Sometimes it would be weeks before certain shows arrived. Ah, but what a wonder to find that parcel in our mailbox!

By the Dead’s later days, the Internet was well-established, and you could usually find set lists on Well.com or Rec.music.gdead and probably other places, too, but as a troglodyte in good standing, I didn’t even have the Internet at home until after Jerry died. I was late getting a cell phone, too, and was totally mystified the first couple of times I took my then-young kids to concerts of what was then “their” music and all their peers would be crowded around the stage holding cell phones aloft taking pictures of the stage or, as likely, holding their cell cameras at arm’s length and taking shots of themselves with the band a blur in the background. I remember seeing the Black Eyed Peas at an arena with my daughter and will.i.am asked everyone to turn on their cell phones and wave them in the air—it was quite a sight; I guess it’s the 21st century equivalent of my generation lighting matches of approval.

Cell phone photos are so 2007, though. Now, everyone (except me) has a smart phone with high quality video capabilities and more memory, allowing same-day or next-day uploading of entire songs onto YouTube or Facebook or wherever. There’s a video of “The Other One” from the 3/10 Best Buy concert that went up on YouTube the following morning that blew my mind: it was mostly astonishingly clear closeups of the guitarists’ hands, and the audio quality was excellent to boot. Trust me, if the Grateful Dead was still touring, every minute of every song (in varying degrees of quality) would be on YouTube the next morning.

Is that a good thing? I guess. I’m sure I’d be right there watching every clip (in order, of course). But I also can’t help thinking that something — some amount of connectivity — is lost when so many people in the crowd are distracted by the incessant cell phone activity (photos/video/Internet searching/phone calls) that is evident at every show by almost any band these days. But I suppose it’s just par for the course in this distracted, multitasking age.

What do you think? Has the avalanche of new technologies and new ways to listen to and see bands affected your overall enjoyment of music in any way? Does access to so much free music make you less inclined to buy music or go see bands live? Or are you discovering cool new things on the Web?

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I just got off YouTube, where I was watching a sharp video of Furthur doing their version of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” last night (3/11/11) at the Best Buy Theater in NYC. I’d followed the progress of the show in the “Furthur” conference on DeadNetCentral.com while it was happening Friday night—one of the site’s administrators, whose nom de web is Dire Wolf, faithfully reports the name of each song as it’s played. So when I went to bed I knew the band had played that Abbey Road gem...

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Thanks for the thoughts Blair. I just don’t know where folks find the time to get acquainted with and indulge themselves in all this communication technology. There was a time when all these devices were intended to SAVE labour and increase our leisure time. But the trend mongers have figured out that it is more profitable for them if these things BECOME our leisure time. I remember being at a cinema in the Philippines where the glow from all the mobile phone screens made it really hard to see the movie! Nothing we can do about it though; and going on about the good old days is what many of us used to find most annoying about our parents. I just try to keep in mind that most of the finest music, thoughts, words, ideas, images ever made were created without the aid of all this stuff. And by people who spent their time processing with their minds and not processing with microchips.
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I kinda felt the same way about the NYE broadcast where the whole show was played under bright lights to accommodate the TV cameras and the whole comfy little scene (because it was still early enough that the scene was relatively comfy) was completely subordinated to the logistical necessities of videotaping a New Year's parade with a Pepto-Bismol pink layer cake. I remember being hugely alienated by the whole experience. And now I'd probably be really nostalgic to see it.
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...it is too much. Cant go anywhere without seeing people on their phones. The trend seems to be less talkinng on it more playing on it. I must admit I am as guilty as anyone. I find it cool to be able to take photos and facebook them in real time. I was recently at a Todd Snider show in Reno(Check him out if you have not already. He REALLY has a lot to say if you get my drift) and I was posting real time photos. The next day I received a request to do the same for the second night. I used to tape but with the ability to purchase and download soundboard copies, I don't anymore. I am enjoying shows knowing there is a good copy for me later. Very cool.
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looking out over the smoke-filled Keystone at a sea of cellphone cameras...
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I have often thought that Jerry would be horrified by all those cellphones. Then again, he did love to do computer art, so it's not like he was anti-technology or anything. In fact he was quite brilliant when it came to understanding equipment and new things that came along, like MIDI, etc... The guy loved new "toys," whether they were audio or video tools...
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To me it always begins with hearing the music live. After that, capturing and distribution is less interesting. And tech improvements has been helpful in that arena. Technology is here to record the live stuff. Long live the live.
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Still one of the few who is happily cellphone free. Had the pleasure of doing all three Boston Orpheum shows, and could only feel bad for those who were apparently enjoying the largesse on their little cellphone screens. Surely something was lost in the translation.
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That's why we have voice mail( answering machine, answering service)And as we all know the boys loved having tapes of their preformances. and we love having tapes of their preformances. Especially old shows with video ie SunShineDayDream 1972 in Veneta Ore. Just happened to be presented with this fine example of grass roots organization of an event So cool archival footage of acidtest days and then the main event 10,000+ freaks in an oregonian meadow in 100+ temperatures and of course, a lack of drinking water. But the boys start playing and everything is alright. Thank you to the visionary folks who had the forsight to film this historic concert. Also just listen to the Fillmore West Box for the 42nd anniversary of those shows. This is a great time to be a DeadHead. The Sky Was Yellow And The Sun Was Blue People Stopping Strangers Just To Shake Their Hand.
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I resisted it for years, still forget to turn it on & it's not a smart phone. Still amazes me how many plp are looking @ them, texting, etc......Not a texter here & I won't bring it to shows as I find it more fun to do it the way we did it when we were young/ just run into your friends......
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Long ago and far away--October 11, 1983, as it happens--a friend called me on a pay phone in Madison Square Garden to tell me that the Dead had played "St. Stephen." He couldn't wait until he got home. He actually called me at my girlfriend's house in Berkeley. She was quite astonished that anyone would do this, and that it wasn't something that could be put off until the next day. Now, of course, it seems normal.
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..the technology controls us I have to walk around people everyday now, who have lost all awareness of their outward surroundings, while their thumbs are busily at work on their devices. On the other hand, I did catch one of those Orpheum ustreams on my computer, and it was sweet, alright! balance is the key, I guess
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I wonder if all this technology is changing how we think and critically process information. Do we now process information and ideas in sound bits without any real ability or time to seriously think and process what we are seeing around us. I now get short emails and text messages instead of hand written letter, it's all kind of sad and impersonal. I agree that balance is the key and a healthy society is one where it's citizens interact and show each other respect in a meaningful way. But I sure love in high speed interent but my cell phone feels like a ball and chain.
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The issues here are interesting, and complex, books have been written on this! In brief, for me, new ways of mediating music have been mainly positive. First, it allows one easier access to music one might otherwise be unfamiliar with--it is all just a click away. Second, w.r.t. the Dead scene, it makes for a more egalitarian scene. In the past this post has concerned elitist heads. Back in the day of cassettes, Nak 550's and the like, access to live recordings was one of the hallmarks of ones committment to the band. Ones "cultural capital" within the scene was often a function of how many tapes you had. Now everyone can have almost everything, and it levels the playing field, so to speak. When I think about how much time I spent trying to track down that rare board recording from, well, whereever, if I only knew that archive.org was in the future I could have spent that time other ways. For me, I see more live bands than I otherwise would, as I often discover bands I like on youtube, and then go see them when they pass through town. As for everyone holding their cellphones and shooting video at a gig, well, that can be disturbing (but so was the tapers scene before the tapers section), and is actually rather odd. Since you know there will be often literally hundreds of recordings/video available the very next day, free to all on youtube, why would you want to add your smartphone feed into the mix? That so many do suggests that it has become a new way of personally connecting to the bands and the music. Whatever is the reality, one feels more connected to the event if one is recording it. And, concerning matters such as this, what one feels IS the reality. There is a reason that the term "connected" is so important in new media studies, and is/was just that state which so many Heads strived for, and achived w.r.t. the Dead.... (And hell if I had in the day equipment as small and good as what you can get now, I would have had A LOT easier time getting my gear into shows!)
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There is a funny YouTube vid out there from U2's 2005 Vertigo tour where Bono spots a chick up front messing with her phone during the show, and he basically lectures her and tells her to put the phone away and commune with the rest of them in the moment there at the show she was actually at. Fast forward to the current 360 Tour and the band has embraced that which they cannot fight.... they ask everyone to hold up their phones during the "Moment of Surrender" encore to create the illusion of bringing the Milky Way into the venue, and encourage Texting from the show for One.org (One Foundation charity for Africa) There's a lesson in there somewhere
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First of all, thank you Blair for the photo and caption! A real flashback to the kind of stuff I loved about your magazine from when it first came out and I was a young(er) head. I am late to technological advancements (like you, Blair, I got internet after Jerry died, years after in my case, and still don't have a smartphone). I find that I don't want to spend the time learning how these new gadgets "improve" the quality of my life. When at a show I find cell phones distracting from the overall quality of the performace, although have on occasion guiltily used texting to locate friends (I try to keep it to a minimum). I find that the more these gadgets 'unite us' the more they tear us apart. I feel like a relic at the age of 42 by all of the technology that I can't (and don't want) to keep up with. I like my vinyl, my cd collection that gives me someting tangible to relate to when I listen to music. I prefer to meet people in person, or at least talk on the phone, to texting and email. Yes, I use these media to keep myself a little closer to those I know and love who use the same. But I definitely find that even with the little technology I use, I resent the time it takes out of my day and the attention it takes away from things that are more immediate. It's always a delicate balance. Without technology we would not be able to keep upt to date with what is going on in Libya and Japan right now. However, it also disperses what little attention and energy I have for life, exhausting enough at its barest.
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I went back to college in the late 90's and discovered it was a necessity! I sometimes think the technology is taking over our lives a bit too much. That said, I have found that the internet has enabled me to connect to some amazing people I would never have known otherwise. This sight and Facebook have allowed to me to connect with some really cool Deadheads all over the U.S. and Europe, for example. The music available on the internet has definitely reduced the number of CD's I buy. At the same time, it has increased my attendance at live shows. I have discovered many bands on line and then gone to see them live. It has also made it easier for me to find out when bands are appearing near me and made it easier to purchase tickets. In the end all technology is a tool. We need to use it and not let it use us!
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Although I think technology has been great for music, it has made my profession an awful lot harder. I'm an English teacher, and I can say that today's average teen has the attention span of a house fly. Part of this is simple teenage development, but another part of it has to do with kids and their DEMAND to be connected to their friends via facebook and texting all the time. You wouldn't believe the confrontations I've had with students when I gently (and other times not-so-gently) 'suggest' that they shut their devices off. I wish you could see the stress on some of their faces when they are unaware of what's "going on" with their peers for even as little as five or ten minutes, and this is while school is in session. The constant 'need' to have access to their friends has altered their learning patterns. Of course, there are many wonderful young students, but the past ten years have shown me that the current group of America's teens see connectivity much, much differently than adults. In my opinion, they see technology and connectivity as some kind of human right. This kind of thinking and behavior has led to an overall deterioration of student learning, especially when it comes to doing anything over a sustained period of time. The idea of spending an hour or two doing sustained reading is not only repellent, it is almost completely impossible to fathom for a lot of kids. To be sure, I always have a handful of great readers, but asking a group of kids to read and understand a novel has changed dramatically in as little as ten years. I know I probably sound like a cranky old jerk, but if you spent a week at work with me you'd be shocked at what passes for an attention span in the average, middle class high schooler. I will say most kids I know are kind, friendly people, but often their need to be connected baffles me. I guess society is evolving faster than I am.
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First of all, THANK YOU Blair for bringing this up. I'm only 33, but am beginning to feel like a grumpy old man when it comes to this subject. Personally, I think the use of "smart" phones and other digital devices at shows has gotten out of hand in the last few years. I find the lit up screens around me to be extremely distracting, let alone when a person lifts it up, blocking my view of the band that I paid probably too much money to see. And its not just teenagers and twentysomethings. I've seen just as many 50 year olds that just can't seem to enjoy themselves and leave the damn thing alone. Whatever happened to the no photography/video policies that most venues had? I mostly blame them for allowing it to get so bad. Okay, 'nuff ranting. Time to get a pre-full moon buzz on. I'm gonna record it on my phone and post it on YouTube! That'll be so sick - I bet no one else has thought of it ;)
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Thanks for the thoughts, Blair. I was at the opening show at the Orpheum on 3/4 and was often brought back to the magical experiences of dead shows. At one point, though, a kid probably in his early twenties was holding his phone up to record "Other One," and it was right in front of my face. I mean, I could see the band through his little cell phone screen better than I could see that actual band with my blocked view. I finally tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he knew how annoying it was. He replied, "I just want to put it on YouTube, man. There are more than just 2,000 people who like the Dead." Sigh. I must say that I was thrilled to be able to download a crisp audience recording of the show from etree.org the next morning, so technology is by no means all bad, but I don't think the experience is the same when people are so distracted by their phones. Jeff VanderVeen "May the 4 winds blow you safely home."
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Thanks for the thoughts, Blair. I was at the opening show at the Orpheum on 3/4 and was often brought back to the magical experiences of dead shows. At one point, though, a kid probably in his early twenties was holding his phone up to record "Other One," and it was right in front of my face. I mean, I could see the band through his little cell phone screen better than I could see that actual band with my blocked view. I finally tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he knew how annoying it was. He replied, "I just want to put it on YouTube, man. There are more than just 2,000 people who like the Dead." Sigh. I must say that I was thrilled to be able to download a crisp audience recording of the show from etree.org the next morning, so technology is by no means all bad, but I don't think the experience is the same when people are so distracted by their phones. Jeff VanderVeen "May the 4 winds blow you safely home."
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Chef Free You hit it Blair! The more people who are paying attention, the better the show, the audience is actively effecting the players and vice versa! The best venues are therefore the biggest ones where the architecture will not let you ignore the band. Winterland was a perfect example, enough people to get that big crowd rush but small enough that there's no way to ignore the band. Lots of great shows there dispite the overall crappy sound quality in the place.
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to know all the answers, but when someone is sitting next to me and constantly texting throughout a show, I know things have gotten out of hand. "Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own."
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>>Has the avalanche of new technologies and new ways to listen to and see bands affected your overall enjoyment of music in any way? Things like YouTube have enhanced my enjoyment as you've described, with a wealth of live footage readily available. >>Does access to so much free music make you less inclined to buy music or go see bands live? I firmly believe that an artist should be paid for their music, so I refuse to D/L albums via torrent sites - I still buy records/CDs or their digital equivalent. However, some of the bootlegged video simulcasts make me less inclined to see a band like Phish live when I can do the couch-tour for free. They're starting to experiment with online PPV, which I'd happily partake in. >>Or are you discovering cool new things on the Web? For me, the internet has really facilitated participation in any band-based community (dead or otherwise). It's an invaluable tool for learning about music, whether it be through sites like this one, or virtual encyclopedias like allmusic.com. Access to live recordings through torrent sites are wonderful, but, as I said above, when it destroys album sales and artist revenues, it's too bad.
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Generally, technology has enhanced it. In no way has it diminished the desire for the real live juice. Personally, I've always loved it that someone else was into the tech and/or chronicling of the experience/history. I have consciously tried to attend shows with the thought that my job is to bring good vibes and if so moved...dance. SongsfRown
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I am not a big fan of cell phones but that's the age we live in. People have their phones out everywhere, a concert is going to be no different. Obviously bands don't care, they are just as submersed into technology as the fans are. They know that if they don't cater to that technology, their business will slide. It's called keeping up with the times. We used to hold matches up and then it was lighters and now its an iPhone app and who nows what it will be next. I use my phone to capture the set list, maybe text someone who is on the other side of the stadium - "Can you believe they played Dark Hollow"?. If my wife, who loves live music but still she loses her attention here and there especially by day 3 of a 3 day run, wants to check her email during a 3 hour long show, I'm not going to get too upset. Some of that stuff is really annoying I understand, but there's no way you are going to stop it and it gets old and tiring to constantly tell people "Can you please put your phone down", constant little confrontations all night long just aren't worth it, and you will definitely not have a good time if you dwell on it too much. You don't know why that person is on the phone - maybe the sitter called and the baby is sick, I mean there are a million reasons and most of which probably aren't anyone's business. I personally am all for instant gratification, again that's the age we live in, now-a-days our society is no longer set up to wait for anything. I also think it can only enhance a band's business -more access to their music means better chance for people to get into them who otherwise wouldn't. I have downloaded plenty of music form an unknown band, found that I liked them and then went and bought a ticket to see them live. That's good advertisement in my opinion, it has nothing to do with stealing, it's advertising. Plus music on torrent sites are from bands who allow free trading - and they allow it for the reasons I just stated, again that's not stealing. "It's got no signs or dividing line and very few rules to guide"
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When your technology starts interfering with other people's enjoyment of the show and then you have the bleepin' nerve to guilt-trip them about it, you have crossed the line in my opinion.

>I finally tapped him on the shoulder and
>asked if he knew how annoying it was. He replied, "I just
>want to put it on YouTube, man. There are
>more than just 2,000 people who like the Dead."
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9 years 5 months
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I would hope through technology we all follow the philzone. Dude named taper rob has been sending us streams for years now. Thank you Taper Rob... you rule. I get the stream and I love it night in night out. That being said... I use to break out the iphone and record some tid bits of the shows but I have stopped. I takes away from (my) experience. I do not need to have a personal (clip) of the show, and besides, what a pain. All I want to do is see and hear the band with my own eyes and ears. When I am not present I do appreciate people like Taper Rob, people like him have the technology to make it, really worth it. A quadrillion people holding up there iphones don't. Seriously the magic cant be recorded on your iphone, so stop it!! Just my point of view and in this wonderful community there are many other, different and cool views. I will finish with a cool quote I saw from Phil (again technology) 'It's the vibe, and the vibe says we really, really, really want it. We want the magic and we want it badly. And making magic is one of those things where you just don't know how or when you do it. Magic happens when the stars are aligned and the energy flows brightly." Phil Lesh March 18 2011.
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And not in a way that I appreciated, the first time I witnessed a guy in the men's room at a show talking on his cell while relieving himself. THAT was a conversation that just couldn't wait? Multitasking is one thing, but it just seems as if there should be at least a few things that deserve your complete attention... But for whatever reason, technologically I recognize that I take the pluses for granted, and get annoyed beyond words at the minuses. So, in a lot of ways, same as it ever was...
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9 years 11 months
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Another interesting thread from Blair. I am slow on the technology front-- had to be forced into a cell phone a couple years ago and still only use it for true need. Two thoughts come to mind. First, I think that technology gets in the way of living in the moment for a lot of people. How many smart phone users truly engage in good conversation anymore? They are too busy looking up stuff to engage. The earlier description of the "kid" recording "The Other One" at a show is a prime example-- instead of enjoying the music live, he instead wants to post a second-rate video on YouTube. I was at Niagara Falls and was taking in the amazing power of it with my wife and all around us people were using their cell phones to take video of it and never stopping to take it in at the moment. It really struck me at that time. In re: to the Grateful Dead, I wonder how the experience of going to shows would have been altered had the internet been full-blown at the time. By this, I am considering fans' knowledge of shows. For those who went on tour, you knew what they had played the last ten nights and would not be surprised that Scarlet-Fire wasn't coming because they played it last night, but for those hitting only one show or a run of shows, guessing what they would play was half the fun. Sitting down next to a tour Head who talked up the tour was always a treat. With the internet, now there is no guessing what they played last night-- it is all right there. When I saw Furthur last year I forced myself to not look at setlists for two weeks before the show so I could be fully surprised by the set. On the music end of things-- I love having access to recordings. This is a good thing.
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10 years 10 months
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the technology gives us an instant take on what is happening -for good or ill. It is virtually impossible today to control the disribution of information-for good or ill. The key is figuring out how to use it for the best benefit for all-the maker and the consumer. I think the Dead model works pretty well-other bands are successfully using it. It may lead to loss of revenue but it may also lead to revenue enhancement when folks want high-quality versions of the music. MP3 doesn't really enhance anyone's listening experience but it can create hunger for the high quality version. Youtube also becomes an archive of a lot of happenings which can be universally accessed and experienced. Someday those videos will be historical in nature just like Coltrane videos are today.
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I think it's true that the Dead scene in particular (though, from what I've seen, others like Marty Balin were acutely aware of it also) was very long on people who knew from the beginning that these were historic times and were obsessive about archiving it, with the result that even now we're in a much better position with respect to the early stuff than one might otherwise expect. I think an awful lot of people pretty much knew from their first show that this changed everything and started documenting it like mad.
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I like instant information if I can't be at the show. Love ya Blair! --------------(---@ SherBear
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11 years 4 months
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If you go to any Sci Fi Convention in this country, you will see all sorts of folks. From the costumed fanatics who can recite the entire script to any Star Trek film, to the guy who just likes to see the ladies dressed as Catwoman. Thus is my take on the shows we attend. You have folks who have the luxury of being able to use any technology that can be purchased so that they have an exact recording prior to leaving the building, all the way to the guy who is standing there in his own world loving every note with his eyes closed and mind opened. It takes all types to make the community of Heads, and we treasure each one of them in their own light to give us a show worth remembering, digital copy or not.
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I clearly remember the exitement I felt when the April 1985 Frost Amphitheater shows arrived in the mail some three weeks after the actual shows. A Deadhead friend I met through The Golden Road magazine tapetrader ads, taped the concerts and rushed copies to me. It was fantastic, I thought back then. Just in three weeks ... ;-) These days I pay 99 SEK (about 15,70 USD) a month for an Internet service called Spotify (there is a free version but then every third track or so is interrupted by a minute of disturbing commercials). There I can listen to whole albums by many bands. The albums available with our Boys are almost everyone except The Road Trips series, the 10 CD Fillmore West version and perhaps some others. Spotify have all volumes of Dick's Picks, they have all volumes of the Download series and more or less everything else. A lot of folks I know have stopped buying psysical products while other do as I, i.e. listen through Spotify and if I like what I hear, I purchase the actual CD's. But then again I might only listen to the physical records once in a while and more often listen to them through Spotify. On the other hand, with the purchase I get the covers and the little books - those are not available through Spotify. Every now and then the music industry says the era of manufacturing physical products are over and that the era of digital downlaods have replaced them. But last year in Sweden, physical records and such, sold better than the last couple of years. More people also buy vinyl records. Some people I know buy new vinyl albums of old records and since many of them are not sold in Europe, they buy them from the US and pay a lot in postage. Myself, I do freetime volontary work in a second hand store. My specialities are record, books and hifi products, and we get more money these days for analog tape recorders. Some people rather make demo recordings on tape than through some digital media. The purchase of used vinyl records are more of interest to people than buying used CD's. Out of the two shops that sell used vinyls in my hometown, one of them would pay me less than 5 USD for any volume of Dick's Picks. But if I had a Dick's Picks on vinyl I would get a lot more ... a lot ... So, I'm not that scared of the technical developement. I was for a while, when it looked like records could only be purchased through digital downloads but these days when the younger generations say they want more background noices while listening to music, I feel secure that the physical products will not dissappear during my time on the planet. Micke Östlund, Växjö, Sweden ------------------------------ My record collection: jazzmicke
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gratification is cool as long as it's not at the expense of others. When a new Charlie Miller comes up on the LMA, I'm instantly gratified. On the other hand, delayed gratification can be just as cool. The E'72 Box has a wonderfully delicious wait time of many, many months - sometimes the wait is better than the actual gratification! I know I'm an old fart, but I dig patience. All good things in all good time. " Where does the time go? "
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11 years 5 months
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It's great that there are all of these videos available on youtube. I recently found that the entire first show I ever saw was on youtube so thank you to all those who record the shows. Personally I just like to sit back and listen. Anything else seems like work!!! As far as new technology goes I still love old vinyl records. It's great to get an analog sound that has never been digitized, which is pretty much impossible in this day and age. Plus, getting up to change the record and examining the sleeve is an event in itself. That said...my computer is half for work and half to store Grateful Dead music. Would love to see all the Vault DVD's on an mpeg, downloadable format. They don't seem to be selling them anymore anyways. Why not put them on iTunes? I'd re-buy them to have them on my iPod. Only Dead video I have on my iPod is one I bought in Paris which also had mpeg files...not available in the US...
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8 years 8 months
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Excellent article, as always Blair. I'm trying not to be too critical- but the phrase "Flash in the pan" keeps popping up. Maybe it's because in this age of - must have it now, instant availability, the shelf life is, well, like a flash in the pan. How approriate it is then, that it took nearly 40 years for the release of the complete Europe '72 Tour.
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10 years 2 months
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as i sat and listen to a live stream of tonights show from pa. this is not pay per veiw or a live broacast from a radio station this the technology that was once provided by few which is now in the palms of deadheads them selves,so they can leave in bobbys "we'll be back in a little bit" or stage banter and not have it chopped out to put in a commercial,taking a technology away from a corporate entity i'm all for it especialy if it concerns the Grateful Dead. I know some of the guys in the dead and their crew are forward thinkers but i dont think they forsaw the technologies that we have today ,but for the most part they have stuck to the" let the words be your yours i'm done with mine' (which as just took on new meaning to me as i typed it)-outa sight the band that keeps on giving-i digress-of letting people tape a show. i can think of a few instances were im glad i got to hear a tune from a show insted of a lite beer comercial. as some one else comented "this is a great time to be a dead" we are really blessed to fans of this music
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48 years 11 months
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It has hit me in the last six months or so a kind of let down when I went to a show. The world has speeded-up and if all you're doing is passively listening it doesn't seem like much fun. At GD shows there were always non-tech things to do while concentrating on the music that seemed to enhance the experience of the music. Now, as quite a few have said, people seem distracted or addicted to multi-tasking. I can't help but laugh when I think of the recent news clip of a woman texting as she walked through a mall and fell right into a fountain. Of course, assuming it wasn't the security camera, capturing this moment was the product of somebody with a gadget phone! The thing of it is, why are you there (or not)? If you're there, be there and forget the technical stuff. If you're thee for others pleasure at home, Thank You!. But if you're playing with your toys please stay out of my way because I paid my money and made the effort TO BE THERE and not on my cell phone, smart phone or video camera app. attached with sound transmitter. Just one head's opinion who really enjoyed bathing in the experience of Furthur's sound at the Orpheum with like-minded heads.
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11 years 5 months
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Last year, started out hugging the rail. There was a helpful young soul with his smart phone giving me the setlist blow-by-blow ("last time they played this was a year ago," that sort of thing). And everyone around me talking, taking pictures, staring at their little personal screens. It was so distracting that I moved out of the scrum to calmer ground where I was then able to actually enjoy the incredible music being played, seemingly, for my benefit alone. We use music so much as the background soundtrack to so many things that we do, I think sometimes that some of us have lost sight of (or never knew) that when you are at a live music event, music is supposed to be the upfront, foreground, full-on experience, the raison d'etre...and not yet just another place where it's the background soundtrack for our personal comedies and dramas. Or maybe I should just lighten up.
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11 years 6 months
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Interesting reading here. What I don’t understand is the stress that folks put themselves under to be doing all this documentation. I never really understood the mentality of the tapers who spend whole shows worrying about levels, crowd chatter, getting caught and thereby missing out on the party (but I am of course grateful for their sacrifices). Now we seem to have not just a few, but thousands of folks fussing over phones and gadgets and recordings and tweets and such. I don’t know why they subject themselves to all those demands and stress. It’s as if nothing has any value any more unless it has been exhaustively documented, endlessly commented on and beamed to the whole world. Hmmmm. Come to think of it ... why exactly am I bothering to write this? Ooops. Back to the music. Jazz Bassist Charlie Haden’s excellent foray into Bluegrass ‘Rambling Boy’. Dammit now I have to go and post about it in ‘What are You Listening to Right Now’ and Tweet all my friends about how good it is. So much communicating to do,... so little time. Sigh.
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11 years 2 months
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In many ways I agree, and ask myself, why did I become a taper? (for the record, I have also recorded Charlie Haden!). I think that for me it was a way of making myself/allowing myself to focus and concentrate more forcefully on the music. Dancing at shows, and just being at them, was once all it took, but as the years pasted I found that the ability of the Dead to "put me in the zone" had abated--either the Band had changed, or I had, or, as is most likely the case, both. Taping, and the intense concentration it required, got me back into that special space, at least for a while longer. But I wonder, is that really the cognitive space someone waving around their iphone is in?
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10 years 11 months
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One really good thing I've found about hopping on a stream instead of being in the hall is that quite often I will just pick up my guitar and jam along with the show. Can't really pull that off at most venues. When I am at shows, I am still a very active participant, as I think anyone who's ever been to a show with me would readily attest. I dance loud and I sing big. The music plays me as well as the band. I am glad there are serious tapers/streamers out there so more can connect with then event, and I do try to be conscious of where those folks set up so as not to crap up their dubs with my noise. I respect the work they are doing, and if they are serious about what they are doing it is a lot of work. I've been on the work side of shows before, too. But for me, I'm not there to work any more, I'm there to revel in the circumstance, and I get my money's worth. I do actually have a cell phone which I finally broke down and got in 2005. Yes, it's still the same phone and it still does almost everything it did when I got it. And one show I actually did text out the set list in real time so someone could update the anxious heads congregated in a chat room, but it really did kind of get in the way so I haven't done that since. I am, however, grateful that there are others for whom such things aren't an inconvenience. Keeping people connected in general is a good thing. The more the merrier! Conversation is always more interesting than recitation, so speak your mind and not someone else's.
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that's been getting on my tits, and that's password protected streams of live shows. Forgive me for cross-pollinating with the Dead-er Than Thou topic, but what is up with the elitism? Seems pretty un-Headlike to me. If you're going to share, then share. Don't be a douche about it. It's not like it's "your" content to begin with. The only reason you have it available is that the rightful owners and producers are tolerating you scraping it up. Please reflect the kindness being shown to you. Likewise, etiquette flows in both directions. If you jump on a stream someone puts up, take a moment to at least thank them for their efforts. And thank the rightful owners and producers as well by buying tickets to as many shows as you can. What happens at shows if often quite magical, but that magic, like most things, isn't free. So remember to get out and support live music whenever and wherever you can. Conversation is always more interesting than recitation, so speak your mind and not someone else's.
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11 years 6 months
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I agree with your comments about sharing. This came up for me recently when, during one of the Furthur shows in Philly this week, a kind Head emailed me with the password to jump on the live stream, but asked me not to mention it to others because they were trying to keep it as quiet as possible. This makes no sense to me. Whether 120 people or 1,200 people listen to a live stream, what's the difference? It's still happening, it's NOT a secret, so why keep it exclusive?

That said, I did as I was asked and didn't mention it, and then felt guilty about it. I was pleased when, last night (5/23) someone over in the Furthur conference on DNC violated the "rules" and let out the password anyway. Unfortunately, it was one of those nights when even the password couldn't get me successfully "into" the show; some sort of technical snafu, I guess. But some other folks enjoyed it, and I did get to hear from the middle of "Dupree's" to the end of the first set, while the second set was going on...Never could pick up that second set, though...

Hey, and thanks to everyone for so many thoughtful comments on this topic! Very interesting perspectives all around!

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The WELL had a guy who saw to it that the set list was posted right after the show ended. His name was Rich Petlock, and he died way too young. I remember in 1993 when "I Fought the Law" appeared as an encore to great excitement in the online communities I was part of. It was amusing to see the song turn up many more times on the set lists from that tour, leading to an amusing phenomenon: there were people who grew weary of the song BEFORE THEY HAD EVEN HEARD IT. Gotta love that. The entire life cycle of a Grateful Dead song in the space of a couple of weeks. Gans/GD Hour blog
GD Hour station list
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"It's All Good" ~Dylan/Hunter
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neat as they are, put you one step away from reality. I'm an old feller, so I don't go them. Went into a pub one day, to find four young people, all sat together, all texting . Too weird for me.
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48 years 11 months
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Having to fool around with the controls and change positions and generally annoy everybody around you with the flashing lights is really disconcerting. I think they should be required to be turned off during the show. We all want what we want -- and not what we don't. Others may not want to smell certain odors around them. In the end, freedom is a difficult balance. I can live with the cell phones as long as I can have a toke.
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11 years 5 months
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As a guy who loved taking photos back when the film and processing cost money, I really don't appreciate cell phones being waved in my way.
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  • achiappanza
    2 years 8 months ago
    Get off my lawn!
    As a guy who loved taking photos back when the film and processing cost money, I really don't appreciate cell phones being waved in my way.
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    Anonymous (not verified)
    7 years ago
    I'm with you, Jeremy P
    Having to fool around with the controls and change positions and generally annoy everybody around you with the flashing lights is really disconcerting. I think they should be required to be turned off during the show. We all want what we want -- and not what we don't. Others may not want to smell certain odors around them. In the end, freedom is a difficult balance. I can live with the cell phones as long as I can have a toke.
  • JeremyP
    7 years ago
    These gadgets
    neat as they are, put you one step away from reality. I'm an old feller, so I don't go them. Went into a pub one day, to find four young people, all sat together, all texting . Too weird for me.