June 24, 1974 Miami FL Jai Lai Fronton
Dark Star Jam [18:15] > Spanish Jam [4:02] > U.S. Blues [8:03]
I have a GREAT sounding version of this if you’re interested (I think it came from The Grateful Dead Hour). The Dark Star is very, very atonal in places - Phil has made comments earlier in the show about being close to the Bermuda Triangle, so that probably figures heavily. The band then segues into the Spanish Jam and it is majestic and spooky all at the same time. Billy is really snapping off the drum part and the tension slowly starts to build as the tempo picks up (it reminds me alot of Ravel’s “Bolero” - “how can they keep this up?”. Pretty soon they’ve moved from this slow march into a full bore boogie, with Keith’s piano really prominent in the mix. Before you know it…" Well, it’s red and white…blue suede shoes…" My favorite version of US Blues, bar none. All of that AND the Wall of Sound. Be there or be square.
November 24, 1978 Capitol Theater, Passaic NJ
Estimated Prophet [12:40] > Shakedown Street [12:12] > Drums [8:52]> Ollin Arrageed (1) [5:21] > Fire On The Mountain [9:10] > Sugar Magnolia [8:32]
I general avoid 1978 shows like the plague, but this is one for the record books. Jerry’s voice is completely shot (I think it was this run where his voice just gave out and they did a whole show of nothing but Weir songs).
It was around this time that Jerry started using the mutron on his guitar (the effect in Estimated and Fire on the Mountain that makes it sound like the grown ups on a “Peanuts” cartoon…wha wha wha…). The whole jam is a seemless, moving from song to song to song without so much as a pause or stumble. From reviews of the show that I’ve read, at the end of FOTM, Weir looked at Garcia as if to say, “How the fuck did we end up here…we’re playing one of my songs?” It almost makes up for the incredibly lame version of “From the Heart of Me” that Donna gets away with.
June 20, 1983 Merriweather Post Pavillion
My first show and the one where my skull was opened up with the sonic can opener and my brains run through the blender.
Bob Star>The Other One>Wharf Rat>Sugar Magnolia
Bob: "As long as we are…and as long as we’ve got to be…I just want to be…one of those little stars…One of those little stars…that’d just be fine…nothing left to do but hang out there and shine…hang out there and shine…hang out there and shine…and
Right into The Other One, without missing a single step.
Wharf Rat contains Phil and God’s ongoing argument as to who could produce the largest sound wave. Phil gives it a valiant effort, dropping bombs that shook the rafters, but God wins when the Pavillion is struck by lightning and the loudest clap of thunder I’ve ever heard knocked fillings from my molars. What a big grin on The Professor’s face that got.
Best Sugar Magnolia EVER. Breakneck pace and Bob shredding his vocals at the end.
Like I said, for a first show experience, I couldn’t have picked a better one.