Two weeks ago I went to my first Futhur show. You’ve heard about my first parking lot (click here if you haven’t), but I’ve kept you waiting to hear about my first show experience, past the gates. Please accept my apologies. I promise, I’d write to you every day if I could.
As I mentioned a few posts ago, the show at MCU Park on June 27th was not my first time seeing a show of reunited Grateful Dead members. It was, however, the first time I was aware of what I was a part of. The Grateful Dead and their music have been in and out of my life since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until the birth of this blog that I began to appreciate and understand the music. Of course, I still have a lot to learn, but there’s a lot to be said for the innate way in which the Dead’s music pulls me in. Simply put, it’s a part of me. And now, I want to be a part of it and that’s what this journey is about.
So, we get inside the park and choose a spot on the field about midway back from the stage. I was surprised by the intimate size of the venue and maybe even relieved. I wanted to be with a crowd, not lost in one. Not on this night. On this night all I wanted was to watch Phil Lesh and Bob Weir in all their glory. This was my chance to acknowledge them and thank them. I wouldn’t be shaking their hands and telling them how much their music has meant to me, but I would be there in front of them celebrating the music, its history, and its continuation. And a celebration it was…
They started the show with a lively rendition of Golden Road that infected the whole crowd. For me, it set the vibe for the whole night and continued with one of my favorites, Good Lovin’. At this point I must have looked like a giddy kid in the candy store of all candy stores. Can you blame me? Finally, I was here. Forget reading about the Grateful Dead or listening to historic shows of the past. I was in the middle of it, the here and now. And that was possible because of Lesh and Weir. Yes, there is more to Furthur than these two, and I recognize that. But at this show, I only had eyes and ears for them.
I was in true awe of the two frontmen. Lesh, 70, and Weir, 62, have been touring for 45 years. Forty-five years! For 45 years they have devoted everything they have to making music and more importantly, sharing that music. I’ve always admired the stamina and endurance, both physically and emotionally, it must take for any musician to tour, perform, write, sell, entertain, etc., for any prolonged amount of time. But, 45 years!? Clearly, I’m still baffled over this. Baffled and incredibly grateful.
When I wasn’t oogling the stage, I was fascinated by the crowd. The tireless dancing, the acid trips, the uninhibited mingling… it was amazing. In this respect I have to admit, I felt like a bit of an outsider. I too was dancing and feeling the music, but I certainly wasn’t uninhibited. Like I said in my previous post, I made the decision to go sober (with the exception of a few beers). By the second set, I was craving to be on a ‘different level’, but stuck with my decision. I’ve gone the other route before and this time I wanted to experience the show with a clear head. Next time… could be a different story.
After the show came the encore, Box of Rain. After that, the fireworks. Walking back to the train, Coney Island was flooded with Deadheads and a palpable post-show high. Once on the train, my friends and I looked over the set lists and swapped thoughts. From Brooklyn, through Manhattan, and back into Queens, I replayed the show in my head. The next morning at work, low on sleep, I was still in my post-show glow. Even now, recounting it, I still get that feeling.
The best part? Listening to the show on archive.org and being able to say, ‘I was there.’
“Well, everybody’s dancing in a ring around the sun
Nobody’s finished, we ain’t even begun
So take off your shoes, child
And take off your hat
Try on your wings
And find out where it’s at”
The Golden Road