Most Cosmic Venue EVER
Let's face it, some venues had a lot more charisma than others -- and still do. Red Rocks probably tops a lot of lists when it comes to personal Grateful Dead power spots -- but what amazing places haven't we heard enough about?
"As we enter a Realm of the New Spirit of Partakement of ShakeDownment that Transcend Time,Being,Place and the Spirit of Past Manifests itself in "Joy of Being" Part of Once was, As Is and Always will Be...a Special Force of Uplifting Energy Channeled through the Ages as a "Kryptical Envelopment of our Souls."
What's more cosmic than not sleeping for a couple of days in Vegas with the Grateful Dead in town?
"When the smoke has cleared she said, that's what she said to me. You're gonna want a bed to lay your head and a little sympathy"
The Fillmore was my everything and the Avalon was about as cosmic as it comes but as the concerts went on, going to Winterland was like stepping into a giant mushroom that vibrates and sings. Full of music! Grate place.
Like Curly, I loved being at Englishtown. It wasn’t that the place was all that great – but the performances and the overall vibe were both amazing.
The spring of 1977 was a heady time too. Not only did I get to catch the Dead on 5/4/77 at the Palladium in NYC (a great old theater in its time) and then just a few days after that on 5/7/77 at Boston Garden (a wonderful dump, which, like the Palladium is long gone), I also got to watch as my apartment building burned to the ground about a week later!
Being suddenly without a lot of possessions changes you, at least for a while. So realizing I had nothing better to do (having dropped out of college only a week before), I decided to head out to California to see what I could see.
My wanderings brought me to Kansas City a week or so later, where I learned that the Dead were planning a 3-night stand at the Winterland in San Francisco in just two weeks. I went to a Ticketron outlet and snagged seats for the second night, 6/8/77 and continued my way to SF.
I found SF to be a really fun city. To make money, I hung around Fisherman's Wharf and sold soapstone carvings I'd made. It was enough cash to keep me going and I met some new friends while I was doing that.
On the afternoon of 6/7/77, one of my new friends wandered over to where I was selling my stuff. She asked me if I was going to catch the Dead that night. I told her I had a ticket for the 6/8/77 show, but not for that night.
"Let's go get you one then!" she said as she pulled me along to the bus station. I protested, arguing that the show had to be sold out already. She laughed at me and then gently explained that Bill Graham always left a few hundred tickets at the door to be sold a couple hours before show time. Sure enough, when we got to the Winterland, there were tickets being sold at the window and I bought one.
We went inside and discovered that Bill Graham was on-stage with a mic in his hand, calling out relay races that were being held on the floor. Teams of folks from different cities were there in an informal round-robin tournament, competing for free tickets to the next night's show. It was a fun time and Graham seemed to be having a ball calling the races, urging on the runners, and hyping up the crowd.
In between races, I went back into the Winterland lobby just as a horde of motorcyclists came roaring up to the front entrance. They began unloading themselves and what appeared to be an endless supply of cases of beer. It was the Hell's Angels. Bill Graham's security people went out to tell them that they couldn't bring the beer inside.
"It's okay" said one of the bikers as he hefted a couple cases under his arms, "Jerry says it's alright."
No it wasn't, the security people responded quietly. You can't bring beer into the Winterland.
"Well then" said the same biker, "Then Bill says it's okay."
Realizing that a riot with 40 or so angry Hell's Angels was going to put a real damper on the evening, the security people backed off and welcomed the Angles in. The Angels for their part happily offered free beer to the security people (and to anyone else who was around) and peace reigned supreme.
It was an excellent evening already and the band hadn't even taken the stage.
"When it comes to humility, I'm the greatest!" - Bullwinkle Moose
Having mostly traversed the East coast for the majority of my 80+ shows, I unfortunately can't speak to the lavish beauty of more organic show settings (like Deer Creek, or Alpine). But I will always have a special spot in my soul for the urban antiquity that was RFK stadium in Washington, D.C.
And it's a wonder that we never set that ton o' dynamite and live artillery off at the armory next door with all our stomping and spinning! I always enjoyed the cloak that nightfall would put on the old arena, as the second set started to take shape. The oddly curved open dome would seem to richocet the light show out into the starry universe. Somewhere deep into the set the entire building had the feeling of an interstellar Ark preparing to launch for an intergalactic journey.
And anyone who has ever been there, for a concert or rowdy football/baseball/soccer game will never forget the sight of (or participation in) the literal rocking and bouncing of the concrete on the lower level. It's an amazing sight to look out and see the frenzied gyrations of the fans actually bending the structure like a rolling wave.
Seemed my friends and I always gravitated to the "Center of the Universe" directly across from the stage, tucked just under the upper deck. The sound quality was always pristine.
I know the old stadium has passed it's usefulness to the D.C. area as a functional arena, but when they finally go to tear that old building down I will be looking to purchase a couple of those awful orange stadium seats for my music room.
I think I missed the actual star, but who's complaining... I saw enough incredible sunsets there that there's no point fretting about a shooting star.
Marye were you there the year that they brought back Dark Star for the firsttime in years and if you were high enough (!) up there was a shooting star that went straight over the shell - it was absolutely perfect...
"when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door"
The Spectrum, Cumberland County Civic Center, Alpine Valley.
"Circle songs and sands of time, and seasons will end in tumbled rhyme,
and little change, the wind and rain."
Veneta's the one that sticks with me too. I love the Greek, I love Red Rocks, but the moon rising over the trees after the '82 show still haunts me.
Saratoga Springs NY is a great venue with excellent sound, in 85 the Dead set an attendance record that stands today.