Dead & Company 7.2.16
Words By J. Picard
Photos By Elliot Siff Photography & J. Picard
The thought of tens of thousands of music fans, hippies and local residents coming together on the campus of CU Boulder for two nights of the Grateful Dead incarnation, Dead & Company, was almost too much to handle. The show would mark the first in fifteen years at a venue that most were unfamiliar with. The night prior to the show I experienced little to no sleep and came to like a kid on Christmas for what would be a wild couple of days of music with my wife and some of my best friends!
I heeded caution to the group regarding open alcohol, cannabis consumption and even smoking cigarettes as we were on University property. I was very curious as to how the police and security would respond to the "floppy" crowd. Another car pulled into the lot and approached us rolling down their window.
"You guys need some bubble wrap..." the woman said from the vehicle.
Chet gave me a sideways glance and turned to walk away.
"... Or some decorations or something for your motor home..." the woman finished.
"What are you, law enforcement?" I said approaching the vehicle, then seeing a badge and uniform.
"I am," she said.
"Wow, you're going to have your hands full this weekend, I assume," I said following it up with "so, how are you guys approaching this? Should we expect the police to be heavy-handed this weekend?"
"Not at all and everyone has been great so far," she exclaimed!
"What time do you get off?" Chet shouted from a distance.
The officer laughed as I tried to sell her two (non-existant) GA tickets. With that, out came the beer, the grill and our Grateful Dead Tarpestries (tarp/tapestries). The officer was right, we needed to spice up our location. We dove into heavy appetizers consisting of jerky, seven-layer dip and other delightful snacks before firing up the grill. More friends arrived and only a couple of additional motor homes. By around 5:00 PM we realized that there would be no crazy scene in our lot, which was just about perfect. On went the burgers and pork loin and it was off to the races! Around 5:30 PM we packed up camp and made our way to the shuttle (a campus bus) that would take us from our distant corner of campus to Folsom Field.
We pulled up to a heavy shakedown filled with fingers in the air, beer being sold out of coolers and smiling cops directing traffic.
"Have a great time!" one of the officers said.
As we approached the madness I glanced down to see the tiniest mouse that I had ever seen, walking along side me. I realized that I wasn't hallucinating when others noticed it and smiled. We turned the corner around the massive iron gate that surrounded the facility and descended into chaos. We located the box offices and hopped into line with a bunch of familiar faces from the GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique crew! After an extensive wait and some assistance from a police officer who had jumped in to help with ticketing, our envelope was in hand. I opened it up to find two all access passes that read "Dead & Company Summer 2016 All Access," and boasted a stars and stripes steely! My hands were trembling as I put one around my wife, Carly's, neck and one around mine. "What planet was I on?" I thought to myself holding back screams of utter joy.
We passed through light searches and entered a venue in which we had never seen a show. We arrived on the concourse and had no clue which direction to head. We made our way through a tunnel, hit the restrooms and headed down a lengthy set of stairs towards the field. The line came to a stop. Apparently, the security had run out of field bracelets and they were only letting people through who already had bracelets or passes. The crowd was extremely displeased and as we entered the field, pushing ensued behind us and a handful of police rushed over to calm the tense situation. After several minutes more bracelets showed up and the flow onto the field resumed. The crowd roared, Dead & Company took the stage, tuned and began with "Bertha!"
Dead & Company Live at University of Colorado, Folsom Field on 7.2.16
Set One: Bertha > Good Lovin', Tennessee Jed, Cold Rain and Snow, Even So, Uncle John's Band, One More Saturday Night
Set Two: Scarlet Begonias > Fire On the Mountain > Saint of Circumstance > Terrapin > Drums > Space > Stella Blue, Throwin Stones > Not Fade Away
Encore: Black Muddy River
"Rain and Snow" followed with Mayer's vocals at the forefront as Oteil's low end contributed a groove to an otherwise groove-less composition before Mayer took off on guitar. Jeff's keys filled in the gaps brightly and overall the song was unexpectedly sweet. The Bobby lead, "Even So" slowed the set down with an airy feel as an image of Rob Wasserman appeared on the screens in tribute following his recent passing. "Uncle John's Band" began with immediate noodling from Mayer and excitement from the crowd. The interplay on stage was magical and reminded me of some of the 74' and 77' shows that I hold dear. The band looked genuinely happy and seemed to be enjoying themselves. As the they kicked into "One More Saturday Night" we headed off of the floor, up the stairs and onto the concourse to hit the restrooms and grab another round of Oskar Blues' Dale's Pale Ales. Unfortunately, the water fountains were off, so were were forced to purchase bottled water in order to hydrate. We hit the stairs and made our way back down as Bob hit the high notes and the first set concluded with a cue to head to Participation Row to register to vote. We located our group sitting even with the side of the stage in an area with ample space to dance and get weird.
We re-joined Matt, Teri and their friends just as the second set began. To our delight they began with "Scarlet Begonias!" I started to dance uncontrollably, spinning and weaving in and out of the small group that had gathered along the railing. Bob sang the main vocal line and John Mayer did his best to hit the "Donna" part. As expected, Mayer and Oteil kicked it into high gear and the Rhythm Devils followed with Chimenti in tow. Bob hit a plethora of obscure phrasings complimenting Mayer's ripping lead work. The crowd was dancing with pure bliss jumping back into the vocals collectively for a brief sing-along. At one point I said hello to Eric Krasno (Soulive) who passed by with a big smile on his face. The jam turned towards the "Fire on the Mountain" transition with beautiful ease, and as Bobby sang the opening lines, the crowd erupted! "Saint of Circumstance" featured Bobby's straining vocals and Mayer and Oteil digging in from start to finish.
The crowd was really moving as the band hit all of the cues and really leaned into the instrumentation. Chimenti shined bright once they turned him up and Mayer soared as he did through most of the show. Mayer and Oteil squared off, absolutely crushing it with huge smiles on their faces. Watching the end of the Allman Brothers and the beginning of Dead & Company, I was so proud of where Oteil was and so impressed with how well he fit in the music of The Grateful Dead. The music slowed down until it was almost non-existant before some cool vocal skat bass hybrid took over and though I am not usually a clapper, I clapped loudly and sang "You know our love will not fade away..." repeatedly. I, as well as most in attendance, were very caught up in the experience. The band exited the stage and the Steely popped up on the screen as the crowd continued, sounding very happy and very high.
We made our way up the concrete stairs reaching the top and heading out of the stadium, down several flights of stairs and up a hill to the bus stop. Traffic stood still as an officer took playful gruff and mocking comments from a handful of wooks at the bus stop before remounting and riding off. Everything was bottle-necked and it would be an approximate twenty minutes before the buses made their way back around the route to us. When it did, we boarded and were dropped off on our far corner of campus. We continued partying for a little bit before packing up and heading back up the winding canyon to the top, where the dirt road ends. I reflected on how may musicians from a wide range of genres that I had seen at the evening's show. It gave me a lot of hope in the scene and remind me just how much of a uniting factor The Dead are. We need that at current. I thought that the staff and University did a great job and hoped that they would correct the few minor issues that took place that night. We returned to the house, soaked in the hot tub on the deck over the canyon and enjoyed ourselves in preparation for the following night's show. Once again I felt like a kid on Christmas eve and tossed and turned in bed until the sun came up...
Elliot's Photo Gallery