Friday, July 22, 2016

Fenway Park Dead & Company - 2016-07-16

     You can read the previous night's review here.  All of these pictures are my mom's, and her full album is here.

     Woke up Saturday ready for another great show!  The Friday show's soundboard was already available for download when I got up, but I didn't check it out right away.  Saturday started out hotter than Friday, and at the time all I could do was just sit in front of fans and relax!  My friend Parker from work was coming to this show with us, so he met me at my place and we headed in to the city after some train shenanigans.  We met my parents for a late lunch/early dinner at the Yardhouse again after riding with trains full of hippies.  I thought it was crowded around the stadium on Friday, but that was nothing compared to the crowds on Saturday.  The show was sold out, and there were plenty of people looking for tickets.

     After we ate, we all kind of went our own ways, my parents to meet their friends, and Parker and I to meet our friend Andrew from work.  Neither Parker, nor Andrew had seen the Dead before, and Andrew only knew a few of their songs, so I was thinking this would be more of a novelty for them.  We hung out a bit, got some beers and they hit the merch tables, then we went our separate ways.  Parker and I wandered around the stadium for a bit; I had come to terms with the fact that we were in Fenway Park, but it was all new to Parker and he was pretty giddy.  After some pictures and exploring we headed to our seats, which were a little farther back and to the side than Friday's were, but the line of sight was about the same.


     As I mentioned, this was a sold out crowd, and there were people everywhere!  They even put up extra barriers and had extra staff to direct people towards inconvenient entrances, so once we got to the seats I decided to try and not go anywhere else until the show was over.  Having that many people in the stadium seemed to affect the sound quality for the worse, too.   I could still hear everything, but it sounded a bit boomier and echoed more than the previous night. Of course, having a larger crowd singing and clapping along was fun, but it also made it that much hotter having so much more biomass crammed into the stadium.

     The band came out on stage at about the same time as the previous night, and the final show of the East Coast Tour was underway!

First Set (* w/ Donna)
  • Jam >
    • Like with the previous night's opener, I knew immediately that this was going into "Truckin'."  It sounded a lot like the jams from 2011-03-29 and 2015-06-27 that both went into "Truckin'," so I was pretty sure.
    • Really good jam though, I'm not trying to say it was the same thing they had done those other times, this was definitely its own jam that just shared a similar theme.
  • Truckin' >
    • Could have been a little faster, but we were used to Bobby's tempos by this point, and they got that groove flowing.
    • Bobby got all the lyrics right, which sounds suspicious, but I think it really was Bob Weir - the heat must have confused him into getting the words right!
    • I was thinking we'd get this in the second set, but what a great way to open the show!
    • Like with Bobby's other bands, they put a lengthy jam in the middle of the song where the Grateful Dead never had one, and the outro jam was a little shorter.  They did what I think of as the "ball of lightning" riff (the build-up to the outro jam that comes after the last "get back truckin' home" verse) like usual and took off on the jam, then John lead the way into the next song.

  • Big River
    • While this is another song that I didn't think I really needed to see again, it was probably the best one I've seen live.
    • Parker has really only been to country concerts before this, so this was more or less up his alley.
    • Jeff once again stepped up to the plate (ha, a baseball reference, I did it!) to show that Mayer was not the only guy who can crank out unbelievable solos.

  • They Love Each Other* >
    • Another one I was hoping for from this band, and Donna came back out!  Everyone in the stadium was thrilled to see her.
    • This song grew into maturity with a slower lope in the post-hiatus days of the 70's, and Bobby's preferred tempo did the song many favors.  As I said about the previous night, the tempo allowed the band to stretch its muscles and really explore the intricacies of the song.
    • They broke the song into two different solo sections, instead of combining both solos into one part of the song, with John stepping up  first and absolutely killing it.  They also threw in the old lyrics from pre-hiatus "heard your news report, you know you're falling short," etc.
    • Jeff once again insisted on not being outdone, and blew everyone's minds with his turn at a solo.  He was probably the star of the night, never flagging even when the rest of the band would struggle.
    • Just when it looked like Jeff would walk away the victor in this song, the band decided to do a more extended closing jam, and John tore it up.  Another great arrangement of a classic song by this incredible band.


  • Deal* >
    • I actually made a quick bathroom run during this, figuring I had seen two versions from this band already and there were no lines at the time.  I was right about there being no lines, but I missed some parts of what turned into an incredible "Deal."
    • John just dug right into this one and didn't want to leave a single note unplayed.
    • I danced my way through the beer lines, around to the prescribed entrance, and back to my seat in time to hear the closing solos, and kept dancing once I got there!  The rest of the set I got a little too hot and mostly just swayed to the music.

  • Bird Song* >
    • They made a nice segue into "Bird Song" led by Bobby and Jeff while John played with a bit of feedback until he slipped into the song.
    • It wasn't a perfect version, as there were some miscues between Bobby and John when the different parts came in, but the band really took off in other spots.
    • The singing, when they all sang together, was truly beautiful, and it's the kind of song that is just so cathartic to hear and be a part of live.  My friend Andrew was talking about the concert on Monday and said the music really feels like medicine for the soul, and this is song is a perfect example of what he’s talking about.


  • Passenger* >
    • A surprising transition, but another song we had really been hoping to see them do with Donna!  Like "Bird Song," it had some definite rough edges, but it was fantastic anyway!
    • Bobby and Donna had some disagreements about the regular lyrics, but then they came to the new bridge that they put in the song with brand new lyrics, and almost agreed on all of them!  By "new," I mean some lyrics from when they originally wrote the song, that have been reworked.  The new lyrics go something like: "Jet plane shadows/ Under the Sky/ Just like an elephant/ Waiting-planning to die/ Ask me no questions/ Sing you no lies/ Give me-One more whiskey/ Or I guess it's goodbye."
    • They had done this with Donna earlier in the tour and it was pretty rough, but this one mostly went smoothly!  The final lyrics got a bit muddled between Bobby and Donna, but no real train wreck.
    • It's such a good song, and it was great to see it with the Rhythm Devils, and to see some new faces playing it.  I've seen Jeff and Bobby do it before, but Oteil and John brought their own touches to it.

    • Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad*
      • I'm kind of burnt out on this song, but this version was really good.  And I'd rather see it in the first set than the second, so lucky me!
      • Oteil has been singing the line "feed me on cornbread and beans" at a few shows on this tour, and he did it here, too.  I first saw Bobby sing that line at 11/11/11, so it was fun to see it again in a different context.  Donna also got a solo line, "goin' where those chilly winds don't blow," and she sang it beautifully!
    • Voter Rap
      • They brought the song to a rocking close, and Bobby encouraged us all to go register if we didn't have anything better to do, which he figured we didn't.

         The lights came on and we sat down.  I finally got over my bit of heat exhaustion, and Parker seemed to be having a great time, even if he didn't know what was going on.  We hung out for a bit and checked out the scene.  As I expected, the crowds going in every direction were huge and no one was really getting anywhere.  My dad somehow managed to make it to the bathroom and back, probably through some form of magic.  I explained some things about the Dead and their world to Parker while we waited, but I'm not sure how much he believed or how much sank in.  Eventually though, the big lights at Fenway went down and it was time for the second set!

    Second Set (* w/ Donna)
    • Playing in the Band* >
      • This was another that I was sure they were going to play leading up to these shows, and their tuning confirmed my suspicions.
      • They launched right into it, and got the structured part of the song exactly perfect.  Bobby got all the words in the right order, Donna provided nice harmonies, and the whole band made it through the different 10/4 riffs.  Donna did not do her trademark scream before the final verse, which was too bad, but she still killed it!
      • They drifted off into jam territory with John and Jeff leading the way and Oteil propelling them along.  Both of these concerts gave us a chance to see the spacier side of John's playing.  We hadn't really seen him do any of these formless songs before like "Bird Song" and "Dark Star," or this, and he proved that he could do more than just rock out over set chord progressions.
      • They drifted into a darker jam and John switched the tone of his guitar, and it should have been obvious where they were headed, but I didn't see it at the time.  They didn't go right into the next song, though, they kept the jam going down dark side streets and around blind corners.
      • John started to wind "Playing" up as if they were going to go into the reprise and finish the song, but Bobby had a different idea.

      • DSC03990
    • Estimated Prophet* >
      • Bobby kind of forced a rough transition into this one, but once they were in it, the machine went back to running smoothly.
      • This is maybe the best of the three of these I've seen them do.  There's one spot in the middle jam where John thinks they're coming back into the lyrics and no one else goes with him, but the rest is absolutely top-notch.  This also felt a little faster than the previous versions we saw this band do, and that's a good thing!
      • It's so cool to see and hear Donna sing on some of these older songs, especially ones like this that originally came into being while she was in the band.  You have to think she had at least some input on the way the song took shape.
      • While I feel John isn't too comfortable in "Terrapin," he seems like a little kid in a jungle gym for "Estimated!"  The weird chords and rhythms give John more things to jump off of instead of tripping him up.  Sometimes he'll stumble a little, but he just seems to be having so much fun crafting unique solos over the song.
      • If you haven't read this previous post this next bit won't make sense, and even if you did it might not, but John's guitar was full or roynks, and he tried to rankle them all out at once in this song.  I didn't think a guitar could be so rankled, but he had to roynk the whole thing out.  Don't even get me started on his shpollerangs...
    • He's Gone* >
      • Another slightly forced transition, this one from John, but they found their groove in the song immediately.
      • Bobby and John traded lyrics again on this one, and Donna's singing really stood out.
      • John nailed the big solo in the middle, really getting into the Big Guitar sound that's so reminiscent of Jerry's playing.  His playing suddenly filled the stadium.
      • No outro jam on this one, which was too bad, but a surprising transition...with another soon to follow!
    • Sugaree* >
      • I've seen plenty of "Sugaree"s in my day, and if John wasn't so goddam good at playing this song I would have complained.
      • Instead, however, this is another contender for probably the best version of the song I've seen.  John was determined to burn the stadium down with the power of electric guitar, and, while the stadium is still standing, I'm pretty sure you can still see scorch marks on the Green Monster.
      • I still think this should be a first set barn burner so we can leave room for something like "Eyes of the World" or, I don't know, "Scarlet Begonias" in the second set, but if they're going to play it this well I'm going to dance and have a good time!
      • They got to the end of the song, but instead of doing the typical finish, John suddenly started in on the MuTron with his guitar and...

      • DSC03993
    • Fire On The Mountain* >
      • They did "Sugaree > Fire On The Mountain?!"  Everyone was shocked, and there wasn't time to explain to Parker why this was so weird, or at least weirder than the rest of the night so far.  A non-Head will look at you like a crazy person if after "Playing > Estimated" you tell them that this is what's really weird.
      • It started a little rough as John set the tempo, but then the drummers locked in and Oteil kicked into the bass line, and we were off.
      • This version was shorter and kind of punchy, as opposed to the longer and more drawn out versions I like, but it was still a whole lot of fun.  John and Oteil really synced up for some incredible playing, and the drummers laid down an infectious beat that you had to dance to.
      • They have a new way of ending the song where they'll all just stop playing and sing one last "Fire," which is really different, but I think I like it!
    • Drums >
      • I had warned Parker that "Drums" was a thing, but I had not told him all that it entails.
      • A pretty short "Drums," and not a lot of shenanigans.  Oteil was up there on various srum and horns again, but I don't think Jeff did this time...maybe I just missed him?

      • DSC04015
    • Space >
      • Everyone ran off stage when Mickey started wailing on The Beam with the metal pipe he usually plays it with.
      • He normally has a strong attraction to those cords of metal, but tonight he took it to a whole new level, and did everything short of playing it with his dick.  He plucked it, he stroked it, and slid the pipe along it...and then he started licking it.  And I don't mean just a light licking, he went so far I hope he bought the thing dinner beforehand.  This is like fourth date kind of stuff.
      • The rest of the band came out and did some fairly typical "Space" noises for a while, but nothing quite as inspired as the first night.

      • DSC04023
    • Days Between >
      • The music mellowed down and Jeff started the telltale riff of this epic song.
      • I've said this about different songs in the past, but this was the "Days Between" I've been waiting for, and they totally killed it.
      • Jeff has always been the star of this song in post-Jerry bands, and tonight was no exception.  He taps into the dark, infested heart of the song and just lets the existential angst flow.
      • I love the way Bobby sings this, and the way the band rises and falls at his command while the song traverses the troughs and peaks it creates.
      • John and Jeff totally locked minds for the jam out of the song, building it higher and higher, flirting with the main chord but never quite hitting it dead center.

      • DSC04008
    • Not Fade Away*
      • Another slightly rough transition led by Bobby, but soon the whole stadium got clapping and dancing!
      • Of course, in a big stadium with sweaty, inebriated white people all at different distances from the origin of the sound, everyone was clapping on different beats.
      • Still, this song was a great way to close the set, and it was what I had predicted for the set closer, so it was ok by me!  Oteil really killed it with a little slap bass going on under his singing.
      • It wasn't as adventurous or lengthy as one would hope, but still a great rocker to close the set.
    • One More Saturday Night*
      • Donna did a Donna scream!  Still wish she did one during "Playing," but my life is now complete.
      • My only first of the night, and it was about time.  I've been to so many Saturday shows where they didn't do this song, so it was good to finally cross it off the list.
      • A great version of an incredible song, and the tempo felt just exactly perfect, especially once they built it up at the end of the song.

         We kept clapping and hollering for another encore, but it was already just about the alleged curfew time.  And besides, we were hot, tired, and sweaty already!  We hung out at our seats for a while while the crowd pressed round in all directions.  We eventually headed towards the exit and Parker and I split off from my parents to walk to the train.  It ended up being a nice walk, but the sweatiest train ride in Boston history.


         So that was the end of the tour!  All in all I think Friday was the better of the two nights, but this Saturday show was truly an awesome experience.  At times it seemed like it was more about the crowd than it was about the music, especially during "Not Fade Away," but the music was still of an excellent quality.  This band has grown so much in the months its been in existence, and I can only imagine how much it will continue to grow and improve as time goes on!  Hopefully they'll announce a Fall or Winter tour, and the party can go on!

    1 comment:

    1. "the music really feels like medicine for the soul"
      I think your friend is right. The world still has terrible things happening, but I seem so much better able to cope since these two great shows at Fenway.