Dead Notes #7 :: Hard To Handle (3/24/71 San Francisco, CA)

dead notes 7

And we’re back. Welcome to the seventh installment of Dead Notes where we find our former psychedelic heroes continuing to shed their kaleidoscopic, meandering, ways. Tightening up, both literally and figuratively, by March of 1971 the Dead’s live show had been transformed into a lean, mean, rock ‘n roll revue. The band had just lost second percussionist, Mickey Hart, who left indefinitely after his father, Lenny Hart (the Dead’s former manager), absconded with the band’s savings. While the loss of Hart was indeed significant, drummer Bill Kreutzmann had become a swinging powerhouse in his own right, and was more than able to compensate for the sudden loss. In return, the Dead were able to open up — moving them further into the jazz idiom while producing some of the most dynamic live shows of their career.

On the night of the 24th, the band convened for the Sufi Benefit at their old Bay Area haunt, Winterland Arena, with a crowd of   “about 4000 characters — Dead fans, freaks, mystics, religionists, spiritualists and a few semi-straights” – aka a Grateful Dead concert. Following an opening set by the Sufi entertainers, the band sauntered on stage plunging straight into a jam with the Sufi choir, immediately kicking shit into high gear with the one-two punch of “Bertha” and “Sugar Magnolia.” Deep into the first set, the opening notes of Otis Redding’s posthumous 1968 hit “Hard to Handle” ring out, as Pigpen’s high pitched warble – “Baaaay-beh, here I am, I’m the man on the scene” – whip the crowd into a frenzy. The band quickly locks into a solid groove as Phil and Billy provide a punishing backbeat while Jerry lays down a sleazy, fluid blast of licks that tangle and weave with Bobby’s chunky rhythm breaks. Pig, of course, dons the role of mister sweet talker, an experienced sugar daddy who doesn’t mess around with drug store lovin’; promising “to prove every word he say(s).” Phil throws down a thick, funky, bass line allowing Pig to really turn on his special brand of poetic charm. A Pigpen rap then ensues, centered around when he “gets a little hungry” — see: the evening, the afternoon, the morning again and the times between. On a dime, Jerry tightens up, leading the band into a thick rhythm and blues jam that percolates with Phil’s bass oozing through Bobby’s rhythmic punches, building into an epic explosion of blood, sweat and tears.

In some sort of post-coital astral haze, the group limps back as Pig reminds us – “I can give you what you want, but you got to come home with me.” Phew! words/ d norsen

Grateful Dead :: Hard To Handle

Elsewhere: As a companion to Light In The Attic Records’ recent vinyl issue of  One From The Vault, our buddy Jess Rotter, of Rotter & Friends, designed commemorative t-shirts. We have a few to give away to AD readers. To enter, leave a comment with your name, size, favorite GD show and why. Winners notified via email.

Archives: Aquarium Drunkard — Dead Notes (Volumes 1 — 6)

96 thoughts on “Dead Notes #7 :: Hard To Handle (3/24/71 San Francisco, CA)

  1. Favorite show (that I attended): 9/20/90, because we knew NYC was getting a Dark Star on this tour, the only question was when.

  2. XL. I only went to one show in ’94 i think with Dylan opening pretty cool, it was way before I really got into either of those bands but what a time me and my gf had.

  3. Tape: Harding Theatre 11/7/71, for the explosive Me & My Uncle that comes in the middle of the Other One, the hot ’71 sound, and the stoned KFSX radio announcer who keeps coming on air.

    Attended: Nassau 3/28/90. Do I have to say why?

  4. I’ll answer this in two ways:

    My favorite tape was always 2/9/73 Maples Pavilion. It was the first bootleg I owned, and I remember initially being amazed at the transition jamming between China Cat and I Know You Rider, and Truckin>Eyes>China Doll. It was only many years later that I realized this show was the debut of so many great songs (They Love Each Other, Eyes, China Doll, Row Jimmy, Here Comes Sunshine). Armed with that knowledge, it became a whole new listening experience. Most of the new tunes were fully formed and so well integrated into the sound and the set. Add in the wacky intro by Way Gravy: “The Rainbow Makers”, and it is a special, warm show.

    Now, my favorite moment at a show I attended was Loser>Let It Grow to close the first set at the Philly Spectrum on 9/8/88. Yes, it’s not the best year, not close to the best show that year even, and on the whole the night was up and down. But, the deep thunder showed up during Loser when Jerry ripped a galloping solo that skated on the edge of feeding back the whole way through, and the band followed him up the mountain to the peak and they all just exploded into a deep rumble of sound. The Philly crowd went completely nuts and we all broke out into a sweat. Goosebump material. From there the Let It Grow was loose, flowing liquid, with Phil and Jerry owning the jam. When the lights came on I felt like I had been transformed. I once had an audience tape that really captured the boomy feel of the room and the crowd balanced with the music, but it’s long gone and I haven’t heard a version that captures that same feel. Maybe a moment lost in time….

  5. My favorite show is November 16, 1970 from the Fillmore East. Steve Winwood sits in on Hard to Handle, Big Railroad Blues, and Not Fade Away/Goin Down the Road Feeling Bad/Not Fade Away. The Hard to Handle rivals the great version you posted and the band is on fire throughout. There is also a guest harmonica on the last three songs that really adds to the jams. I wear a size large.

    Check it out:

  6. I too will pick a show I saw- 6\30\95. Last time I saw them. Such a memorable day for many reasons. Crazy rain storm during the show to break the days heat. The band played a number of Rain songs. Surely not their finest show but great times and vibes, an enjoyable late period show.

  7. Size: L

    Fave show: 4/29/71

    Why: It was the first really good (nth-gen) sbd cassette that I got in college in the ’80s, and I wore it out, haha. The Aligator > Drums > Jam > CRS is still amazing.

  8. I came to love the Dead too late in life to make it to a Dead show, but the first show that absolutely floored me on the first listen (and every one since) is the 8/27/72 Veneta, OR show, since released as “Sunshine Daydream”. While I’ve listened to many other great shows from this era and others, this show has a certain energy that resonates with me that bleeds through the entire recording. This show showcases the best of a phenomenal period of songwriting. While the ’72 Jerry and Bob solo albums are great in their own right, I enjoy secretly imagining an alternate history where American Beauty is followed by a Dead album that includes “Bertha”, “Sugaree”, “Deal”, “Black-Throated Wind”, “Playing in the Band”, “He’s Gone”, and “Jack Straw”. This “Promised Land” immediately makes any day a sunny day, and I have a hard time listening to “Sing Me Back Home” late at night without getting a little teary-eyed.

    Shirt size=Large.

  9. The Closing of Winterland – 12/31/1978.

    The End of an Era – for Winterland, for the Dead (Keith & Donna would be gone within a few months), and for Rock ‘N’ Roll.

    Highlights: 1st set Sugar Magnolia/Sunshine Daydream sandwich; Scarlet > Fire; Ramble on Rose; Bill Graham ushering the new year whilst riding a flaming joint; a very special Rhythm Devils featuring John Cipollina (best EVER, in my opinion); first DARK STAR in 4+ years!!!!

    Size: Medium. Keep up the good work AQ!

  10. Fav show Knickerbocker ’95. Last time I saw them live out of just a couple times. I was a real youngster, bending the truth with the folks to sneak my way there was the best thing I ever did. Large.

  11. Size: XL

    I’m going to pick 10/25/73 Dane County Coliseum… Wonderful Weather Report Suite… oh and possible my favorite Mind Left Body Jam in the middle of Dark Star. They explore a lot of territory during this show and year. Billy is swinging and steering them pretty fluidly. This is why I love 72-74 over other eras.

  12. I really enjoyed the 10/12 and 10/28 1990 shows at the Zenith in Paris. Musically the shows were so-so, but spending a day at the Louvre and the Musee de l’Orangerie and then a Dead show in the evening was a lot of fun. XL for me.

  13. Matt Oh
    Size L
    Cornell 5-8-77
    I enjoyed this show the most because I mean heck, it’s got some of the finest guitar work from Jerry. Although I will say it’s a common choice for many heads, it really put me in a fever when I first heard it.

  14. ive got to pick 6-10-73 RFK Stadium Washington, DC. Home town show. 3 sets with the Allman Bros joining in on the 3rd set! Plus arguably the best version of Eyes of The World ever! Size L

  15. 6/23/74 Miami
    I’m a big fan of the one-drummer years, and ’73 and ’74 were the jazziest of those times. (seeing them live in the mid-80’s until the end did make me appreciate having Mickey there as well). As ’73 transitioned into ’74, the playing became more open, spacey, yes, but actually with more space in the music. A dynamic range together with an experimentation that was lost after the ’75 hiatus. The highlight of the first set is the Chuck Berry cover “Let it Rock”, a tune that Jerry did in his solo shows, but this is the only Dead version. The first set ends with the entire Weather Report Suite into China Doll, a seemingly brave choice to end the first set. The second set starts with a jam reminiscent of He’s Gone, then without vocals, transitions into Ship of Fools. The highlight of the show is the sequence “Dark Star jam”, 18 minutes of instrumental jamming on the theme without vocals, into the Spanish jam sequence that they had been playing since ’68, then seamlessly into a fantastic U.S. Blues. Finally, they rock out to close the show with Uncle John’s and Saturday Night followed by the Casey Jones encore. A unique show in a great year. (Size M).

  16. Andrew Stocker
    Size: L
    Gotta be Fillmore East 1970. Later reissued as Dick’s Vol. IV, I grew up with the tape before it was released to CD 1996. My dad acquired the tape after he missed out on attending the three day stretch, he really wanted to see his favorite band of all time, Love, on the back end of that three show stretch that included the dead, Allman Bros., and Arthur Lee/ Love. I grew up with this well worn tape as a kid, it became the basis for my latter day dead-head fandom. And to this day, it remains my most listened to live dead effort. It’s a focal point of the relationship between my father and myself. He taught me so much about music, about loving music, and keeping that passion alive.

  17. I don’t get how this turned into the best show everyone saw but it has.
    This is what I like to refer to as the bare Dead. Essentially the band is musicially a quartet, Pig wasn’t playing much keyboard. This is also the time where as Phil notes in his book, the the other members noticed how much Bobby had improved as a guitar player. Bobby slots in gorgeously between Jerry’s leads and Phil’s low ends. And you can really hear it on this track. Great pick.

  18. L. Favorite show is my first Buckeye Lake 88. I remember the first song (feel like a stranger) and then nothing more. Bruce showed up at some point but that is heresey to me. Great time and hooked me for life.

  19. I never had the opportunity to see the dead live, but one of the first tapes I owned was Louisville, KY 6/18/74. The second set has a strong row jimmy>weather report suite>let it grow>other one. Good stuff.

    Size medium.

  20. I’ll echo Adam’s comment above. That Pittsburgh show was also my last show, and it was the last show at Three Rivers. Although not musically perfect, it was special.

    The rain opened up right at the beginning of the second set, with Jerry’s back to the audience, before he turned around and belted out the first lines of Beatles’ Rain . . . I don’t mind. I remember it seeming more like the Dead were conjuring the rain than playing in response to it.

  21. Allan Rosenberg – medium. 3/30/88 Meadowlands, NJ. Reason it’s my favorite show: I was in the front row for the second set, Jerry ripped off an incredible guitar solo so I made eye contact with him and gave him a huge smile and a thumbs up, he nodded back and smiled.

    How could that not be your favorite Dead show.

  22. Size: L

    Favorite Show: 8/27/72 – Veneta, OR

    I’ve always loved the period from the Europe ’72 shows, the most of any. Then I heard this beast. Took the best from those Europe shows, and just blasted it all at once on the farm in Oregon. Recently watched the Blu Ray released with the box set, and fell in even more love. The cast of characters in the audience, coupled with this monster of a show, make this my favorite. Undisputed.

  23. Favourite Dead show? As a fan of Anthem of the Sun, I’d have to pick Valentine’s Day, 1968. The primal dead era was in full force, and they played the album in it’s entirety in all of it’s space psych glory. Jerry (in his les paul vibrato mode) took his modal meets bluegrass playing, while Bob and Phil lent and understanding hand. Can’t discredit Mickey and Bill on duelling drumsets, going through multiple time signatures with every given song (they really made complicated music pre-Workingman’s Dead!). Pigpen, although his mic seemed to be unplugged during Alligator, puts it down on organ as well. Classy reissue all the way, out out by the dead a couple of years ago. Doesn’t hurt that there are two (!!!) different 27 minute live recordings of Viola Lee Blues among the bonus tracks.

    T-Shirt size = S or M

  24. My favorite show remains my first, Utica War Memorial, 3/13/81. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when a couple guys I knew from my small town school offered me their spare ticket (somebody had canceled on them, and I think they needed the beer money). I had never seen anything like the crowd or heard anything like the music. When the band opened with Shakedown Street and Jerry sang the opening line — “Don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart” — the crowd went ape shit. If you’ve ever been to Utica, you’ll know why.

    I wear a medium.

  25. Two come to mind:

    8/27/72 – Sunshine Daydream, Veneta, OR – Great for the “Sugaree” in the first set. The band struggles to keep the instruments in tune in the heat, but something comes together around Bob Weir’s rhythm playing in this one. You can almost feel the sun beating down and the sweat dripping.

    7/31/2003 – Lakewood, Atlanta, GA – Billed as the Dead, but whatever. Bob Dylan opened and played his whole set in the rain, which continued for the Dead and made for a really dismal first set. But right as the band kicked into the last song of the set, “Good Lovin’,” the sun broke out and a rainbow formed over the lawn of the amphitheater. I think the whole lawn (and the band) peaked in synch.


  26. Eugene, OR 1.22.78
    The first set has a four-song run (Peggy-O, El Paso, Tennessee Jed, Jack Straw) that includes the best version I’ve ever heard of at least three of those four tunes; the 2nd set delivers with Terrapin, Other One and St. Stephen; the recording is perfect, up front and clear as a bell; and Jerry’s happy, all the way through.

  27. As a sometime-AD writer, I hereby remove my name from contest eligibility (shirt looks killer, though!), but my favorite show, at the end of the day, is still 8/13/75 (aka One From The Vault); I get goosebumps during the Bill Graham intro (every time) and the show just wallops from there. Runners up would include 12/31/76 at the Cow Palace and 4/17/72 in Tivoli. I third Michael and Jared’s comments about Veneta, too – that’s one’s a “converter” for sure.

    Also, don’t sleep on Dave’s Picks 9, everybody! It may not be the “best” sounding live Dead release (it was WOS-era after all, so of course the vocals sound like they’re coming outta cardboard tubes), but I’m a big Keith fan (surely I am not the only one??) and his contributions are way audible for a change. Separation throughout is super clean and you really get a sense of how outside Keith and Bobby could get when you could actually hear them. I mean, it’s like the “And Justice For Jason” of Dead boots!

  28. Size:L

    My favorite show was Veneta, OR ’72! The best of the best and good vibes through and through plus just IMAGINING being there on the farm makes me wanna smile.

  29. I’ve seen the Dead many many times throughout the years but the ones that stand out were the shows in the spring/summer of 1978. A friend of mine and I bagged a semester at college to follow the pied pipers and I literally had the time of my life. The particular shows are pretty much a distant smear of memory with a couple highlights here and there. It was the seventies, what can I say!

  30. Raw dead….Love it but much more to say..I started my tour in 1985 saw many good years but this was the dead in their prime….wish I was sixteen at this show…good loving and peaceful days…peace love and the grateful dead….forever

  31. 12-27-78 Golden Hall, Community Concourse, San Diego CA

    This show changed my life. While I was only 16 it changed where I wanted to go to college, where I would choose to work, and put me on the bus.

  32. Greek Theatre Berkley CA. Full Moon. Friday the 13th. Dark Star encore. 1984/85. I do not remember the exact year. Look it up. 1st DS in many, many years. I was there. Do not believe those who say it did not happen. It most certainly did. I wear a large. And I will wear it with GD pride…

  33. XL
    Oh man wish I would have seen the Dead back than. Alas my parents never did bring me, I had to wait for my cousin to introduce me to their music than my road trips started. and I never looked back, BBBBBbaaby.

  34. Size Large. My favorite show would be my first one, which also was my first concert ever:Rochester, June 1988. I was a month away from turning 17 but my Dad would not let me drive from Buffalo, so I had to take a bus. My friend, John S., came with me. It was a great first concert. It was the only time they ever played “Green Onions, if I’m not mistaken. I had a great time. Unfortunately, the last bus out of Rochester left at 10:30pm so we missed most of the 2nd set. I really regret missing Wharf Rat, but for my first concert, it was pretty damn good!

  35. I need a new Dead shirt but can’t afford one, my kids come first, so I sure hope to win. Thanks for sharing the music.

  36. Awesome show. Jamming it out. And on my exact birthday. 3-24-1971
    But my favorite show that I attended has to be July 4th 1989. Just an amazing show for more reasons than I can write about but they sounded great and personal experiences are always better at firsts. It was the first Terrapin Station and masterpiece and the pouring rain during looks like rain… Come on. Doesn’t get better.
    Thanks for letting me share
    XXL 🙂

  37. My favorite show is 6/25/1992 only because it was my son’s first show. It was his high school graduation present! We rode motorcycles cross country from Washington state to get there. Watching him “get on the bus” as the show progressed and finally understanding his old mans’ obsession with the Dead was priceless! We went on to share many a show afterwards!
    2nd favorite was my first show 11/17/1973 at UCLA!
    Oh large shirt please….

  38. 4/6/82 – The Spectrum in Philadelphia. It was the day of a big snowstorm. Took the train from Long Island to NYC the Amtrak to Philly. Met my friends who went the night before. Bought a ticket at the show, got electric and the show was just perfection. From the opening of Cold Rain & Snow, to the Shakedown, one verse of the other one, morning dew to the baby blue ending, there was perfection of every note. Just a great show that was made better when a soundboard turned up in my friends hands a week later. A close 2nd was the Oxford Speedway shows of 88 or any night at the Garden in September 87.
    L size

  39. My favorite show was 9/27/72 at the Stanley Theater in Jersey City, New Jersey. We had tickets for all three shows, but this, the middle show was the absolute best. First of all, we were bumped out of our excellent seats by the sound people, only to have those tickets traded for front row seats. Then the Dead opened with the HUGE first chord of Morning Dew. The show also included a sweet Bird Song, a memorable China Cat Sunflower into I Know You Rider, He’s Gone, and, unbelievably, Dark Star. 41 years later, this show still thrills me, as I was lucky enough to acquire CDs of all three shows. T shirt size XL, thank you.

  40. Sadly, I did not see any incarnation of the band live until the late ’70s; but I have made it a point to correct that deficiency whenever possible! In some incarnation or another, I have seen every “full member” of the Dead EXCEPT Pig.. 🙁 Jerry, Bob, Phil, Mickey, Bill, Keith, Donna Jean, Brent, Bruce, Vince, Warren, John, Jeff… Yes, even Tom Constanten; who brought a cover band called “Dead Ringers” to Anchorage AK. But my favorite show has got to be one that is not one of the “top recordings”; but one that was special to me.

    It was the spring of 1980, and I rescued my younger brother from a “family function”, and took him to his first Dead show in Greensboro NC. We walked up to the gate probably 15 minutes after the band had started to play – and had no problem buying tickets (for $18 each if I recall correctly) and getting in during the middle of “Promised Land”… and worked our way to stage front by “Me and My Uncle”. Did I mention it was his first show?

    I’ve experienced “better” shows around the world – by definition of sound quality, setlists or personnel (all of which are subjective); but taking my brother out of the realm of listening to my vinyl to the “real experience” for the first time…. was a magical experience.

  41. In 1970 my buddy Mike, President of the Music Club in High School (I was President of the Geology Club) turned me on to Anthem of the Sun. We spent the next several years catching every Dead show in LA we could. Were in college in Flagstaff when a show came up at the Hollywood Palladium and we drove across the painted desert by full moon to get to the show. Little did we know we were in for what I think is still the best Dead show, 8/6/71. I like this (3/24/71) Hard to Handle for it’s laid back to full steam ahead development, whereas the Palladium HTH smokes from start to fire breathing finish. You can here my buddy Dave whoop when the song starts on Bob Bertrando’s classic recording. He was a big Pigpen fan and this was one of his favorite Dead tunes. I can remember Bob Weir telling them to move back to get a better recording and seeing them with the tape recorder and thinking “you guys can’t do that”. Thankfully they did and I can relive every moment of that show. Except the auras around everyone……. Forgot to mention, there was an eclipse of the moon that night too.
    Thanks for the Monday treat. I’d take a large.

  42. 3/16/90 The Capital Centre in Landover, MD…now immortalized on the Spring ’90 box released a couple years ago. I’m a huge Brent fan and this collection really shows how good he was, even when he was so unknowingly near the end of his journey. 🙁 Size XL please. Thanks!

  43. My 1st dead show was in October (I think) of 1974 @ Winterland. Me and friends had graduated high school (Orange Glen in Escondido, CA) earlier that year in June. One of our buddies started Fall semester that same year @ SF Insitiute of Art, called and said I got tix to see the Grateful Dead. Never seen ’em and only knew Truckin & Sugar Magnolia from the radio. The concert was after they released Blues for Allah and I never, ever saw and experienced such an event. I was dead to the bone ever since. Just got back from Paradise Waits with my girlfriend. I thought those days were over, but no … !

  44. Fave show? July ’90 at Giants Stadium: Dark Star (finally!), Eyes of the World, closed with The Weight including verses sung by Papa, Bill, Phil, Bruce Hornsby (who filled in on piano,) and Steve Miller (who opened.) Got in on a miracle for the cost of a peanut butter, honey, banana, and wheat germ sandwich.

  45. Favorite Show: 9/3/77 at Englishtown

    All-time versions of Loser, Mississippi Half-Step, Bertha, NFA, and He’s Gone — and a Terrapin encore taboot!

    Shirt Size: Large

    Many Good times.
    My favorite shows were always outside.

  47. Like so many, I’m an XL. A favorite show was one I attended with friends, “the Pseudo Brothers,” at Spartan Stadium in San Jose on 4/22/1979. It was Brent’s very first show, and he added energy that entertained and amused us all: “I Need A Miracle,” indeed. Also, BG was out looking at the line in the AM, telling us to “lick the back of the tickets, because that’s where we put the acid.” A long, fun day, and my first outdoor show.

  48. M or L. The Summer show in ’85 or ’86 at Cal State Dominguez Hills. It was hot, but sunny and beautiful! What a perfect day.

  49. After a weekend of rain and mud the sun finally peeked from behind the clouds during the first notes of Dark Star…. tell me that’s not magic.

    Bickershaw 72

    Shirt size L

  50. First show was right after brent joined the band at the mississippi river festival, was at his final show in chicago. I love all eras of the grateful dead. Favorite tape would be the only time that whats become of the baby was performed, electric theater chicago illinois 4-26-69. A mind bending show to say the least.

  51. XL. Favorite show right now? 6/21/71 Chateau d’Herouville France. Awesome, random show at a really cool place. As discussed in the article, 71 might’ve been the best year for good solid raw rock n roll blues!

  52. I grew up in Tahoe, but right about the time I was old enough to sneak off to a show, we lost Jerry. Love this music. It is like salve for my soul.

  53. 1st show was 11/73. 9th grade and the world unfolded. Last shows were a pair of Knickerbocker shows in ’95.
    Thanks for everything and keep it up.
    As always the best show is the next show.

  54. My favorite dead show is 05/02/09 the last of the shows at the spectrum in philly. warren haynes helped out and the band and the audience were fire! Especially liked Warren Haynes on Comes a Time! I’m a Medium shirt size. please and thanks.

  55. XXL

    Hampton VA, 3/27/88 – First Solo show as I was the only one of the group who secured tickets that evening. I Iko’ed my way up front and was never looked back from there.

  56. Size – XL

    11/30/80, Fox Theater, Atlanta, Ga.

    I can listen to this over and over. It takes my mind to other places ending up in a dreamlike state. In fact going to listen to it now.

  57. Sooo miss Jerry, Only got to see East Coast Shows cause I was living in Mass until ’97. I still have all 6 of my mail order tickets to the Sept Boston Garden ’95 Shows that never happened. Sad face. The Wed. night show would have been my 25th birthday. I do have my tickets framed along with the official Fall Tour poster (still hanging proudly on my living room wall.) Highgate VT was the last show I saw. Miss grooving.

  58. I went to 34 shows, most at Winterland and Oakland, but also in Oregon, Colorado and Utah. The early 70’s shows always stand out as the most exciting. ‘Best show’ often depends on who you were with, how old you were, what state of mind you were in, etc. as much as the musical prowess of the band that night. However, I can say, unequivocally, that the best song I ever heard was the gem you have found and presented here. March 24 1971. Sufi Choir night at Winterland. I have heard tapes of the whole concert since, and overall, its a solid night, but not particularly spectacular compared to others — with the exception of this one song. I was a senior in highschool at the time and attended with a couple friends from the East Bay. This song transported us. It blew the roof off the place and blew our minds. We were not on psychedelics, but it was definately a psychedelic experience. So much that was great about this band can be heard in this particular version of this song. Some recordings are better than others. In this, the bass comes off really well. I have a cassette tape of this somewhere where Bobby’s rhythm is louder and more dominant in parts. You don’t often hear Jerry stand back and let Bobby do a rhythm solo. This really is Bobby and Phil at their best. Of course, Pigpen was at the top of his game as well. It just all came together for an explosive performance. So glad to have been there. But don’t take my word for it, PLAY IT AGAIN!

  59. man, loving this thread so very much. got my first batch of tapes in 96 or 97, from my resident advisor on my floor at high school nerd camp. playing those tapes in my car through high school opened up a corner of my mind hitherto unknown. I can still picture the clear favorite — fillmore west 3/1/69 (mislabeled 2/1/69) — endless song bleeding into endless song, in combination with the slow warping of that maxell XLII in my dashboard cassette player — intimations of eternity.

    size medium, but I vote it goes to eric #43. do it for the kids!!

    thanks AD and thanks d norsen.

  60. Size XL
    Can’t remember the date but after a long letter when ordering tickets explaining that my wife will give birth to our first born and would like a show to celebrate, they gave us 8th row center. Sting opened and I shot some great pictures of Sting and then Sting with Jerry, when he came out to join him. I remember seeing John K before the show and dropping to the celebration and having the best night and the best seats in the house. I have pictures I would like to share, but the memories are the best. Thanks to GDTS for the seats and thanks to the guys for a show that dreams are made of. I only saw 33 shows but that’s 33 more than some Heads…

  61. L
    2/3/1968, I love the unstoppable force that is Anthem of the Sun-era GD. Whatever fueled them that night should be bottled and sold.

  62. Size L
    My favorite show of all time is too hard to pin down with all the incredible moments from 1968 – 1977, but the best I attended was definitely 9/5/91 (out of 30 between 1989 and 1995). It was high energy start to finish, the crowd was insanely loud and the band fed off of that atmosphere. Bruce and Jerry had great chemistry together, and the band also was working together exceptionally well. Many excellent songs in the play list that night, but the highlights were the beginning, middle, and end of second set – most rockin China>Rider I’ve ever heard from ANY show, beautiful Truckin>Smokestack, and a positively explosive Sugar Mag>SSDD at the end with Bobby screaming and kicking and the crowd lapping it up. I have yet to find a REALLY good audience recording of the show (soundboards don’t convey the energy that the show generated), but I hope to find one someday. 9/4/91 was amazing as well, and 4/4 and 4/5/91 in Atlanta. None of the other shows I saw matched the intensity of those 91 shows.

  63. There are so many shows I just don’t remember anymore. I do remember that there was always a smile on my face. The Vegas shows kind of stick in my head. Good times! I remember Jer on Stella like it was yesterday. Chills…..

  64. Just another example of what made the Dead so amazing. I was living on Long Island and after December 1969 I never missed a show at the Fillmore East.

  65. Can’t get enough live GD j: theres too many awesome concerts they did and sadly i never got to attend any of them. But I’m sure it would’ve been life changing

  66. 7/8/78 the show so nice they numbered it twice. It was my second show after 2/3/78 in Madison, WI. I remember Micky doing (what I later realized was a la Apocalypse now) helicopter drumming during Terrapin. It sounded like 20 helicpters were all landing at the same time surrounding the Red Rocks Amphitheater. Incredible! A great show with the sweetest Wharf Rat intro among many other highlights, all culminating in Werewolves of London that we all were singing as we exited.
    Size Large, if I am so lucky!

  67. Auditorium Hall, June 29 1976. Strong playing from the dead all around at this show, but they had a good summer run that year overall. I basically go back to this one because they played Mission in the Rain! Just adds that special something to an already solid set. Plus Bobby and Donna both sang really well that night, just listen to the Looks like Rain from that night.

    I’m Kyle Stephens and I am a size medium.

  68. I was on the bus for 44 shows during the last 15 years of their run, starting in 1981 (9/26), and I think my favorite show has to be 11/7-8/85, in particular the first of those two nights in Rochester NY. I had just graduated college and was still bumming around avoiding adulthood and these were the last fall tour shows i would ever see in the Garcia era. For me they epitomize the GD experience: walking out of the first show, I thought “ok that was pretty good,” and the second night the impression was simply “holy crap i love this band!” Flash forward a year and a good buddy laid an stupendous quality soundboard of 11/7’s second set (there are super quality SBDs of both nights in circulation now). Turns out that ‘pretty good’ night was an absolute monster. An unusual second set “Let it Grow” saw the boys tearing it up, with Phil and Garcia digging real deep. On the first listen of that I remember saying to myself “i just don’t remember it being this good!” but there it was gloriously on tape for me to revel in over and over again. thanks for the tape Johnny B., and thanks to Phil Jerry Bill Bob Mickey, Brent (and Bruce and Vince) for providing a safe place to play with my friends! (I’ll take a medium)

  69. I’ve only ever been to one dead show, and in some ways it has come to represent the essence of the cosmic bittersweet hilarity and Conrad’s incomprehensible logic of accident for me. I grew up listening to punk in Detroit in the 80’s and the dead were anathema. The show I went to was at pine knob in June of ’91. I’d been out of high school since January and had gotten myself into a healthy string of absurdist adventures already. My credo was no alcohol, no drugs, no girlfriends, get the weirdest job possible, quit after three months. I was better with some parts of that than others. I had been working as a maintenance / grunt work tool for this steel plant that was owned by the father of a kid i knew. He listened to the Smiths and Depeche Mode but we got along anyways.

    I don’t even really remember how I got the tickets. I was goin with the flow pretty strongly and never paid attention to the mechanics of how the magic happened around me. Strange parts of my brain had been starting to flicker and flash on like an old style flourescent bulb that was fighting it’s ballast. I’d had dreams about my father’s heart-attack the night before it happened and had heard a voice in my head saying “He’s dead” about a kid that dropped from an aneurysm the next day, all within the span of a month or so leading up to the dead show. I don’t even really remember who I went to the show with but they were definitely not dead fans. I didn’t know any except this cute girl that paid me $20 to put a hair braid in out of embroidery floss – my grandma taught me how to macrame when I was a kid. I remember making a wall hanging out of synthetic maroon and buff jute. My parents seemed to like it because they hung it up but I thought it was ugly. I was amazed at the orgy of good natured commercialism going on in the parking lot of the show. It was a self consistent parallel universe that had Jerry as the gravitational center and a hierarchy of celestial bodies in orbit around him. I was merely a comet passing through. Some of the orbits were clearly degenerate as kids with too much of one thing and too little of another were spinning out in cliched style, although my 18 year old eyes were cruelly tuned to that part of the spectacle. In later years as the tectonics of personal taste opened my ears and mind to the Dead, I would say that I liked the Dead, just not the dead heads, but the irony of it is that I didn’t listen to a single bar of the music that night, I was way too fascinated by the subcultural espionage, like a Tom Wolfe in sheep’s clothing. The crowd was a feast for the eyes. There is probably not a fan base that has been as thoroughly described as that of the Dead so I won’t be redundant. The most poignant feeling that I had was not that of togetherness and oneness inspired by the noodley jams, but rather of alienation, both personally and in a reactive way in the crowd, people young and old responding to the alienation of the world outside of Jerry’s gravitational pull by escaping it, throwing themselves past the event horizon to fall head long into the black hole of the Dark Star, hoping by the intense power of that gravity to be smooshed into a singularity. The burden of mortality is otherness, being vastly alone even in a crowded dead show.

    Years later papa CRZ from the band Oneida made me listen to Anthem of the Sun. Years past. I’d flirt with a studio album here and there, but the tumblers hadn’t fallen in my heart quite yet. Then for some reason about a year ago I just started listening to them and nothing but. I had escaped my first winter in rural Maine (as if there is any other thing in Maine but rural) by going to the quiet backside of the USVI for a couple weeks with my three year old son. We communed with conchs and love bugs (St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainers, Dysdercus andreae). We saw the coral dying. We saw a beach where a mass slave suicide had happened. I looked into the dirty mirror of a woman glazier who OD’ed and saw the black ocean of her heart. I had a unity experience with a man named “teacha” that spoke with his fingers in a way far more advanced than any mere sign language. Heavy stuff. Came home to the snow giant of the north pissing sleet and passing frozen kidney stones, may ice-lice eat his hoary beard! For every nadir there must be an apogee. I just started listening to the Dead and nothing but. Somehow it made it easier for me to deal with the winter in its blithe disregard for us mortals. About ten weeks later on Earth Day my Dad finally died of ALS, god bless him. The following Friday he was cremated on my fortieth birthday. To tell his story is way beyond the scope of this post but a story well worth telling. I live in Maine, he died in Florida. I didn’t get to go to the service for the cremation. Instead me and my wife and two kids went to the head shop here in town and I bought a Grateful Dead T-shirt, my first and only, and a couple sticks of incense. We walked over to the “Two Penny Bridge” here in town over the Kennebec river and lit the incense and said our peace each of us as we watched the smoke go up to the sky to mingle with that of his spirit and remains. It took me months to be able to listen to something other than the Dead, but they have been an important part of my life this past year. I obtained the Download Series Volume 11 soundboard copy of that June ’91 show that I was at and finally listened to the show. They kicked the show off with Touch of Grey. How apropos! It’s a beautiful set and sentimentally my favorite.

    Thank you Aquarium Drunkard for posting your Dead Notes. I’ve enjoyed them all. I am coming up in the next week on my father’s birthday, his first since passing. It’d be cool to win the beautiful T-shirt as a memento of a year passing, as a symbol of the change that happens in all of us, in this regard for me since June ’91. but if I don’t win it doesn’t matter much, the process of writing this has been its own reward. That, and the music.

    I’m a medium in all meanings of the word.

  70. My favorite show is probably 6-18-74 at Freedom Hall in Louisville. It’s my hometown and I just love that jazzy 1974 sound, best displayed here on an energetic Eyes followed by a tender China Doll that acts as a nice denouement for the first set. Second set gets spacey without falling apart in a nice dark WRS -> TOO.
    Also, for anyone looking for another great Hard to Handle, check out 8-6-71 at the Hollywood Palladium. The whole show smokes, but the H2H is otherworldly. Jerry absolutely cannot contain himself.
    I wear a medium.

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