Last night I drove past the venue of my first Grateful Dead concert, and my post about that show received a good bit of feedback.
So how ’bout my last Dead show.
In the summer of 1992, I was pushing 30, which seemed to be ancient at the time. (Yeah, right.) The Dead was playing two nights at the Star Lake Amphitheater, a Monday and Tuesday. Because of job obligations, I could attend only Tuesday.
When I found out what the band played Monday, I was kind of upset because none of those songs would be played the following night: “Deal,” “Scarlet Begonias” -> “Fire On the Mountain,” “The Other One” and even a snippet of “Dark Star.”
Tuesday started in a promising manner with “Help On the Way!” -> “Slipknot!” -> “Franklin’s Tower,” and the first set ended with “New Speedway Boogie,” which I hadn’t heard live before. The second set, though, kind of leaned on some material I hadn’t heard before: “So Many Roads,” “Long Way to Go Home,” and “Corinna,” for example. In retrospect, I should’ve enjoyed the new tunes, but I was still irritated about not being present for “Scarlet-Fire” and the like.
As the band played a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time,” I could sense this would be my final Grateful Dead concert.
And as I heard the first notes of “Brokedown Palace” for the encore, I started walking toward the exit, muttering about how many times I’d heard that one.
Then … I couldn’t find my friends anywhere, and it started to pour down rain. I hitched a ride to where my car was parked. My friends showed up eventually, lambasting me for disappearing. Can’t blame ’em.
Kids, that’s what life was like before cellphones!
Anyway, I should have appreciated what I was witnessing instead of focusing on the negative. Three years later, it all was over.
At least I have the memories.
Associated listening: “Singles Collection: The London Years” by the Rolling Stones