Jesse Jarnow

#deadfreaksunite 1976

#deadfreaksunite 1976
tape-by-tape notes

An extended listening project tracking the Grateful Dead’s evolution, recording by recording. Originally posted on Twitter on each show’s 40th/50th anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. Many shows streamable via archive.org.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977]

5/28/76 orpheum theatre: 1st of 3 circulating rehearsals from sessions that seem to have started in mid-april. crisp 2-drummer mix. could be stockholm syndrome, but i might like parts of LAZY LIGHTNING, 1st rehearsed in ’75. really feeling the jam into SUPPLICATION. 1st ATTICS OF MY LIFE since ’72, not played onstage ’til ’89. almost convincing, minus mickey & keith’s reggae. phil critiques donna. recorded in ’72, played once in ’74, weir seems to write new & final CASSIDY intro on the spot & everyone else knows just what to do. 1st COSMIC CHARLIE since ’70. despite alleged ’76 lethargy, think it’s actually at same tempo as earlier versions.

5/29/76 orpheum theatre: 2nd circulating 45 minute rehearsal fragment, split evenly between EYES OF THE WORLD & PLAYING IN THE BAND. ’76 has reputation for slowness, but EYES is faster & busier, lazy gait turned to a gallop. nice quiet places, plus mickey cowbell. PLAYING definitely slower & tentative as they relearn. 1 full take, 2 subdued donna wails, good spacin’, meh reentry.

5/30/76 orpheum theatre: last pre-tour rehearsal. WHARF RAT kept earthbound by too many cymbals/drums. round-toned overdrive solo. 1st recorded run-through of THE WHEEL, released on garcia’s solo debut in ’72 & losing the spaced pedal steel & but getting dreamier. CANDYMAN is few clicks faster than ’74, donna’s harmony replacing phil, but the intimacy & urgency seem gone.

6/3/76 portland, OR: the grateful dead return to road after 19-month break. debuts, bustouts, rearrangements, & new M-E-L-L-O-W vibe. big part is the mix, but so much feels mushy & imprecise & sedate. mickey’s drums busy up everything & redraws center of band. 3 party-starting debuts (MIGHT AS WELL, SAMSON & DELILAH, LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION), though psych/prog ambition seems nearly gone. 1st CASSIDY since 3/72, 2nd ever, doesn’t have a jam yet. dead debut of THE WHEEL, which kind of *is* a jam but doesn’t get to do so. rearranged THEY LOVE EACH OTHER goes reggae-y & works. DANCING IN THE STREET (1st since 1970) goes disco, jams, & is very silly. gravity-free moments in DANCING, burbling 10m SCARLET BEGONIAS (a fine place for mickey, for now) & elsewhere, but little flow. 33 minute late show HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER opens into big exploration, loses way, hints at ’73/’74 EYES ending. weir’s between-verse disco-soul grunts on HELP ON THE WAY are totally unacceptable.

6/4/76 portland, OR: 1st slowed-down FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, which is beautiful, but just not as fun & folky as earlier. debut of garcia/hunter’s magnificent MISSION IN THE RAIN, played only briefly by the dead. not there yet. hoping to find a keeper. weir repeats 6 of his 9 songs from 1st night, garcia only MIGHT AS WELL & HELP/SLIPKNOT/FRANKLIN’S, getting into legit space again. 1st COSMIC CHARLIE since ’70. no slower, just less bounce. already mellow before, ’76 STELLA BLUE now too sleepy.

6/9/76 boston music hall: 1st east coast dead show since 8/74, 1st of 4 in boston & start of month-long tour sold by mail order only. counting bust-outs, just under 1/2 of 3-hour show is new to the band’s repertoire since last time through town. sloppy starts/ends. beginning of SCARLET BEGONIAS jam is mickey’s cowbell versus donna’s wail. cowbell wins but we all lose. settle down beavis! (he doesn’t.) great 11 minute CRAZY FINGERS, richly developed & dipping into denser & darker territory before collapsing suddenly. bummer, man. much clearer soundboard mix than portland shows. great singin’ on SHIP OF FOOLS. can just hear garcia’s voice starting to fray. 1st ST. STEPHEN since 10/71. crowd freaks. the tempo is only a l’il slower but is tamer & muted. bridge now a waltz. new jam, too. EYES OF THE WORLD bucks ’76 trend of slowness & gets speedy/messy. cool nooks & jam before vocals, but losing some earlier elegance. 1st HIGH TIME since 7/70. well suited to slower dead & even donna’s voice, though definitely one too many drummers.

6/10/76 boston music hall: odd & enjoyable mix with keith godchaux’s piano near front. sweet jams with garcia on expanding SUGAREE. [sold myself on the idea that LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION is actually tasty, well-rehearsed disco-prog. just hope the jam opens up. stellar 2nd version of MISSION IN THE RAIN, underrated brooding hippie soul by garcia. besides a few drummerly nits to pick, a keeper. why couldn't they ever count off HELP ON THE WAY & start together? SLIPKNOT! opens up wide & resolves gracefully & dramatically. LET IT GROW establishing its place as reliable portal to detailed high-speed dead jazz, with new DRUMZ break & blustery weir drama. good deep space in PLAYING IN THE BAND once mickey chills out, reconstructing to great full-band jam with all contributing. PLAYING almost becomes 1st great segue of '76, falls apart, & then is just that, slinking into DANCING IN THE STREET.

6/11/76 boston music hall: big cheer after "tell everyone you meet that the candyman's in town" in CANDYMAN. jerry's a cartoon now. 1st show with cheers for meta-lyrics identified with the musicians. happens on "band beyond description" in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, too. band finds excellent quiet spot in SCARLET BEGONIAS, give or take beavis-y cowbell. lovely coos & ooos by donna late in the jam. some quick-cut segues, including seemingly planned late-set EYES OF THE WORLD/STELLA BLUE inside SUGAR MAGNOLIA/SUNSHINE DAYDREAM. EYES darts coolly & confidently, ending drama deleted, & dissolves to STELLA BLUE, tom-tom clunk creeping like kudzu.

6/12/76 boston music hall: another great MISSION IN THE RAIN vocal by garcia. quizzical & just-exactly-imperfect solos, but a stunner. LAZY LIGHTNING & SUPPLICATION is one of the dead's more underrated post-'76 platforms for fast-n-squiggly garcia jams. despite general unpredictability of '76, open-ended improv is far reduced & virtually absent from this show except in small blurps. garcia adds extra "true to me" in WHARF RAT, start of soul belter era, & a twinkling 5 minute jam. due to FM mix, hi-hats sound like casios. 1st COMES A TIME since 10/72, with big solo & delivery. one more split-up SUGAR MAGNOLIA (with U.S. BLUES) as encore.

6/14/76 beacon theatre: 1st grateful dead show in NYC proper since 3/72. fan club only tix. mini-riots ensue. can't tell what's the bass-less '76 mix & what's the music, but PLAYING IN THE BAND has lost some warmth & its old weird & easy flow. band still trying to figure out what to do with THE WHEEL, lonely-seeming as a standalone 2nd set opener. what a great song, though. an A+ weir intro after long tech break: "we're going to try to answer the musical question, 'what happens if the music ever starts?'" another nice 10 minute CRAZY FINGERS, losing some delicacy but brushing into SPANISH JAM turf. happy to discover that it's a '76 thing, too! effective full-stop "segue" before well-placed post-jam COSMIC CHARLIE, getting successive cheer ripples as crowd recognizes it. 13m SLIPKNOT! dissolves in good & bad ways. real discombobulation but also a thread-dissolving float into garcia space & new zones. garcia seems to lose steam midway through drooping FRANKLIN'S TOWER. there's always the next show.

6/15/76 beacon theatre: TENNESSEE JED isn't that much slower than earlier versions & this one has a charming slow-motion bop. band's heavier '76 groove isn't just hart. kreutzmann also switched from matched grip to overhand to better telegraph snare hits. return of old easy ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY pairing. former has beautiful spacious jam, latter folds shakily into STELLA BLUE. after being so perfect in '72-'74, plodding 6/76 versions of STELLA BLUE are especially hard to listen to, fragile tension seems MIA. just a wee bit blustery, but SAMSON & DELILAH is consistently popping, a tight platform for all to noodle around barest song-groove. following DANCING IN THE STREET, THE WHEEL makes it into 2nd set post-jam slot, though they don't quite figure out to jam into it yet. 5 minute SCARLET BEGONIAS goes in middle of SUGAR MAGNOLIA. cute idea that could work, ragged in execution. plus, no jam.

6/17/76 passaic: and off to 3 nights in scenic passaic at the other capitol theater. much video circulating. drum mics picking up charming mickey crosstalk. "the whole band's too fuckin' loud," as garcia counts off THEY LOVE EACH OTHER. weir reins in developing space jammin' in SLIPKNOT!, though not that gracefully, audibly counting off but most miss initial cue. funked up DANCING IN THE STREET always seems about to launch free, never does. smooth & maybe-too-easy segue into SAMSON & DELILAH. nice SHIP OF FOOLS (quiet donna!), though 2nd drums continue to subtly pull quieter songs' dynamics away from garcia.

6/18/76 passaic: dig the double drumming on cowboy songs like MAMA TRIED & BIG RIVER, locked grooves & no space for tom-tom thunder. another 13 minute 1st set CRAZY FINGERS (with relatively soft post-jam landing, even) but that's it for open-ended improv in this show. 1st few listens suggest this could be my keeper take of MISSION IN THE RAIN, good vocal & big performance. will revisit. uneventful EYES OF THE WORLD deletes end jam (sigh), opts for DRUMZ & 1st segue into THE WHEEL (yay), unjammed (boo).

6/19/76 passaic: sweet rolling garcia/godchaux mini-jam in TENNESSEE JED. pure "electric dixieland," as david crosby put it. 18 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND doesn't do much. nifty outro in LET IT GROW; cool keith figures, & smooth slide into DANCING IN THE STREET. this charming mickey, cont.: "hey, weir! how about some rock & roll?! hey, phil, why don't we do ST. STEPHEN! yeah, let's do that!" they don't. endless 20 minute boogie, starting with AROUND & AROUND. weir tells drummers to slow down. they aren't pleased.

6/21/76 philadelphia: excellent SCARLET BEGONIAS with nice non-ridiculous double-drummer peak & freakishly smooth landing. keeper version of CANDYMAN, garcia soulfully yo-yo'ing around the melody, mostly controlled & awesome, sometimes less so. well-placed IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES, rare garcia ballad as second set closer. one of my favorite underused dead moves. off-mic, band using shorthand before encore. phil: "JBG?" weir: "teargas?" (?) garcia: "sugar mag?" (they do JBG.)

6/22/76 philadelphia: big nifty jam in CRAZY FINGERS, spiraling up & semi-naturally back down into a fairly devastating COMES A TIME. 22 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND gets solidly & convincingly weird for 10+ minutes, thrilling dead-brand space jazz going in & out of focus. lesh/drummers trio leads almost-smoothly into 1st great use of THE WHEEL, slow build intro & swift effective jam into PLAYING reprise. another non-languid hyperspeed 12m EYES OF THE WORLD, heavy mickey, eventually settling in (sort of) for nice jerry-isms. no EYES outro, instead sliding into DANCING IN THE STREET, with its 1st gorgeous & semi-out between-verse jam.

6/23/76 philadelphia: thought it was dead, but weir's 1st YELLOW DOG JOKE since '72. like much else, doesn't quite pack its old punch. crowd now cheering for every reference to "the band" in THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, an audible shift from a general audience to a niche. a few isolated cosmic portals in ST. STEPHEN & DANCING IN THE STREET, but an earthbound evening at the tower. very early audience clapalong in NOT FADE AWAY, though heads don't sustain it & it disintegrates quickly.

6/24/76 philadelphia: mushy audience tape. cowbell loud & clear, especially on SCARLET BEGONIAS that cuts new space just before peak. fantastic build & short soaring jam from WHARF RAT, a fine reminder of how DARK STAR is sometimes only a breath away, even post-'74. and a pretty lifeless SUGAR MAGNOLIA, a reminder of how energetic the song legitimately was on most nights.

6/26/76 chicago: what a difference a nice soundboard makes. old-style phil/jerry conversations instantly clear in 9m SUGAREE. sweet '74ish SCARLET BEGONIAS filled with intricate curlicues & sunlight, edging on free space, mickey's drums pleasantly contained. PEGGY-O returns, perfectly suited for the '76 slow burn. near total crash in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. not sure i've heard one that bad? faith-rejuvenating 36m PLAYING IN THE BAND > ST. STEPHEN > THE WHEEL > PLAYING with well-developed meltdown & rolling WHEEL outro. short but cool CRAZY FINGERS improv, though steam disappears during a dynamic-free STELLA BLUE.

6/27/76 chicago: 17 shows in, band, mixes & new songs (MIGHT AS WELL, slow FRIEND OF THE DEVIL) getting tighter & more relistenable. 1st exciting & spaced-out DRUMZ segment of '76 in 17 minute LET IT GROW. big explosion back into song, almost instantly melting back to jam. satisfying oceanic swirl & smooth return in 9m SLIPKNOT. garcia takes FRANKLIN'S TOWER into quiet with long lay-outs.

6/28/76 chicago: donna now adding yeahs/woos to songs where there weren't previously yeahs/woos, on TENNESSEE JED & EYES OF THE WORLD. SCARLET BEGONIAS finds moment of pure zone-warp in the middle, resolving into beautiful glide. '74 delicacy paved over by hi-hat. good news: band finally finds a nice beginning-to-end DRUMZ-linked segue-flow for 2nd set. bad news: whole set is barely an hour. zippy 16m EYES OF THE WORLD wanders on pre-verse detours, outro has 1st '76 bass/drumz weird-out, short off-mic discussion, & then debut of blissed 2-chord HAPPINESS IS DRUMMING jam, instrumental prototype for FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, from mickey's then-new "diga" LP. garcia gets knotty in 10 minute encore NOT FADE AWAY. on audience tape, disconnected outro clapalongs, but none coalesce.

6/29/76 chicago: end of 19-show tour before return to san francisco. verdict: magic is sporadic, but far more mojo than i expected. last grateful dead MISSION IN THE RAIN, a soulful keeper. garcia kept playing it solo. best original to get dumped so quickly? why? tiny windows of jam-space opening up in CASSIDY & MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. garcia would clearly keep going, but weir brings songs back. all kinds of great slow motion pockets in ROW JIMMY & garcia even remembers most of the words. donna sounds just exquisite. satisfying full spectrum 36m PLAYING IN THE BAND > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. THE WHEEL gets deserved jam. nice drawn-out PLAYING reprise. garcia finds A+ martian loop-riff midway through NOT FADE AWAY. band builds & dramatically ties it back to song. #deadfreaksunite [6/6]

7/12/76 orpheum theatre: the grateful dead’s 1st bay area show in 8.5 months, longest break since band formed. opening night of 6. long soundcheck (with video). much work on STELLA BLUE. minus audience, weir revives “form a big long line” in DANCING IN THE STREET. after a month, band is plenty crisp in places with only details changed, like donna’s BROWN EYED WOMEN vocals. i miss phil’s singin’. weir’s 1st NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES since 4/71, a song i definitely never missed, though can see how it’d be fun to play with 2 drummers. more excellent deep dives & dead jazz intimacy in SUPPLICATION. always shocking how quickly they can just drop into that zone. 10 minute 2nd set opening SUGAREE wanders, finds cool garcia nooks. weir tests out new corny blues growl in SAMSON & DELILAH & elsewhere. listened to 14m FRANKLIN’S TOWER 2x on headphones. 1st time seemed boring & sleepy; 2nd time, filled with details & mini-jams. YMMV. DRUMZ gets nicely weird & free as a prelude to THE WHEEL but the show never quite achieves space. no keepers?

7/13/76 orpheum theatre: the band must’ve read fans bitching on twitter about the lack of jamming on 7/12 cuz things escalate quickly. night 2 opens with 1st MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP since 10/74, thankfully pretty intact, though lazy river jam rolls a l’il too lazily. PEGGY-O is gorgeous & garcia does some serious singing, but mickey’s infinite marching snare subdivides it from ballad into a groove. 30 minute 1st set CRAZY FINGERS > LET IT GROW; former with unhurried cascades, latter with space DRUMZ & 2nd jam that goes even further. another odd ’76 mix, but lots of killer keith godchaux piano colors. 2nd set not as cool, though NOT FADE AWAY gets spaced again. rehearsal paid off: STELLA BLUE regains many of its dynamics & is only mildly awkward wedged btwn SUGAR MAGNOLIA & SUNSHINE DAYDREAM. encore DANCING IN THE STREET nearly hits 16 minutes, longest yet, & (while still goofy) goes out & pretty much sails away.

7/14/76 orpheum theatre: not a lot of drums in mix, but that’s cool, especially on SHIP OF FOOLS, which has nice quiet vocals up top. more good 1st set jamming in 35 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. not much swing but flows nicely to space & back. another speedy, cluttered, unsatisfactory 12 minute EYES OF THE WORLD, dissolving into a beautiful 60 seconds of solo garcia before WHARF RAT. 1st OTHER ONE of ’76, 8 minutes & 1st verse only. escapes triplets just before choppy bass bridge into MUSIC NEVER STOPPED.

7/16/76 orpheum theatre: gorgeous soundboard, courtesy of a recent “dave’s picks,” though still never enough of kreutzmann’s snare. monster 49 minute 2nd set sequence of PLAYING IN THE BAND > COSMIC CHARLIE / SPANISH JAM > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. adventures aplenty. except that dave of the “picks” has graciously excised SAMSON & DELILAH from the middle, brilliant move from a vibe perspective. thx! restless PLAYING until lesh hits not-quite-STRONGER THAN DIRT bassline & band remembers their space jazz moves. A+ CHARLIE placement. SPANISH JAM builds slowly from unusual mid-set start-from-zero space-out, as great (or better) than any earlier take.

7/17/76 orpheum theatre: killer newish “dave’s picks.” great piano mix. MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP back to form, focused & biting. bonkers 59 minute set 2 jam: COMES A TIME > OTHER ONE > EYES OF THE WORLD > OTHER ONE > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, with much weirdness to spare. 16 minute COMES A TIME must be longest ever, drifting almost imperceptibly from solo to inventive improv, like falling into a dream. gnarly OTHER ONE with many corners & 10 minute old-style space-out. odd not to hear phil singing, which garcia keeps forgetting to do. big story of set is properly chill 15 minute A+ EYES OF THE WORLD that veers into odd-timed & purposeful “blues for allah”-like mini-jams. the EYES jam evolves gracefully into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, though detours nicely into a rare 2nd OTHER ONE verse before veering back. pretty sure donna isn’t onstage for set 2, leaving bobby free to do bobby, which (by the end) he does quite handily.

7/18/76 orpheum theatre: finale of 6 shows at the orpheum & last of the post-comeback small theater shows. garcia opens with another purposeful MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP. 1st LOSER since 10/74, l’il more subdued. donna takes over phil’s vocals. nice momentum-building cut from SUPPLICATION into LET IT GROW. cool post-DRUMZ jam finds new changes, dissolves, & reforms elegantly. short but deep DARK STARry jams bracket WHARF RAT, which has beautiful quiet donna vocals & some proto-TERRAPIN pomp. rest of show has crazy setlist moves & new suite combos, but not quite coherent improv magic of previous 2 nights. way fun, though. i mean, THE OTHER ONE > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > ST. STEPHEN > THE WHEEL > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. #deadfreaksunite [6/6]

8/2/76 hartford: 1st big post-hiatus east coast gig. bit flat. only an audience tape; many ugly clap-alongs. 10 minute MIGHT AS WELL 2nd set opener turns into nifty jam (!), uptempo space-boogie that suggests lots of places but just sort of ends. 55 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > WHARF RAT > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD > PLAYING IN THE BAND has a few killer moments, but lacks revelation. PLAYING takes ~12 minutes to coalesce & find its weird. WHARF RAT opens to bass solo & conversational grooving, eventually turning generic. donna-hating revisionists be damned, crowd sure seems to love her PLAYING screams & AROUND & AROUND wailing.

8/4/76 jersey city: end of summer tour & last of 6 ’72-’76 shows at roosevelt stadium. 1st set filled with slow songs & long equipment breaks. tape isn’t great. only overblown NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES seems to gel. also the beginning of the era of out-of-breath garcia, notable on chorus of LOSER, & much of why post-’75 dead remains hard for me. 30 minute HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER feels clunkier than usual, but lots of great quiet slow-motion turns in SLIPKNOT! brisk & semi-functional next-beat segues between FRANKLIN’S/DANCING IN THE STREET/THE WHEEL/SAMSON & DELILAH, mini-jams in the middle. generous 2-hour second set, but the mojo seems evaporated by time of 36 minute NOT FADE AWAY > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > SHIP OF FOOLS. change in garcia’s voice & approach on display on SHIP OF FOOLS, quiet sweetness traded for quiet soul melodrama.

9/23/76 durham: fall tour opener. i chose grotty mono PA tape over terrible audience recording. tough to dig. 1st RAMBLE ON ROSE since 10/74 & 1st with mickey hart. one of the few ’71-’74 songs not to lose something with a 2nd drummer. EL PASO makes post-hiatus return, too, with nice garciaing, but band now solidly into the sloppy rock endings phase of their career. lyric crashes for garcia in CRAZY FINGERS, which unspools into nifty winding jam (sorely needing a better mix) & oddly smooth landing. confident & brilliant full-band intricacies in SLIPKNOT! lively/awake keith godchaux piano throughout, especially on FRANKLIN’S TOWER. after finally slowing back down in july, EYES OF THE WORLD returns to harsh high-speed chug, restrained until quickly-collapsed jam. 13 minute OTHER ONE with muffled space-out drops into 1st post-hiatus MORNING DEW, rusty but glorious. great keith.

9/24/76 william & mary: vivid audience tape. big energy & lots of piano. not what i expected from ’76 dead! ugly cowbell clonk early, but tight & adventurous PLAYING IN THE BAND makes fun surprise turn into SUPPLICATION & back, one time only. laser sharp HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT! dissolves into DRUMZ & builds perfectly back into song until comically overshooting reentry. majority of the 2nd set is made up of songs debuted over the previous 2 years, increasingly a rarity, & feels more alive for it. even STELLA BLUE is brisk &, more importantly, dramatic/dynamic, great decorative color by keith throughout.

9/25/76 landover: 1st BERTHA since 10/74, less swing but huge & locked in, the sound of ’77 finding itself. nice jaunty PEGGY-O. garcia’s voice sounds better than spring/summer. adding occasional vocal asides in every show of tour so far. 1st known ALL OVER NOW (on stones’ 2nd US LP), likely sung by weir in ’65/’66, now a platform for his awful blues growl. hard pass. not much by way of out jamming, but SUGAREE, SCARLET BEGONIAS, & DANCING IN THE STREET all briefly achieve total sunshine flow. last COSMIC CHARLIE ever. awkward energy, but garcia/weir/donna jean approach a sweet sleepy vocal blend. toodle-oo, COSMIC CHARLIE. NOT FADE AWAY almost spaces but falls into DRUMZ, a bass solo, & back into ST. STEPHEN by way of oversized bass tag.

9/27/76 rochester: nice soundboard mix. sloppy double drumming feels punchy & charming instead of sludgy. ever-so-slightly brisker tempo on 1st fall THEY LOVE EACH OTHER cancels faux-reggae & restores a little bit of the ’73 bounce. now that weir is playing ALL OVER NOW, he has to play it every night. feels regressive & bland. dead don’t bring much new to it. right-on bass solo preludes full drop into 60m HELP ON THE WAY > SLIPKNOT! > DRUMZ > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT > SLIPKNOT! > FRANKLIN’S. SLIPKNOT! keeps going to wild places, a brilliant set centerpiece. such a bummer they stopped opening it up like this after this tour. THE OTHER ONE recovers some dizzying pre-’71 2-drummer swirl. lots of full-steam-ahead bass. almost breaks free, always snaps back. 18m FRANKLIN’S TOWER is fun but maybe runs out of ideas. succeeds wildly as dance music for twirling hippies, though.

9/28/76 syracuse: left turns, some real surprises, & even more ample keith godchaux piano. for 1st time, BERTHA seems driven by drummers instead of garcia’s rhythm guitar, which is now slightly more staccato. unsettling. likewise, languorous ’76 FRIEND OF THE DEVIL morphs into more of a spacious hippie reggae groove than a song, lots of weir & hart. breakneck LET IT GROW is fun overkill. big bass & hyper-intricate jam evaporate to mega-rare 1st set GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD. 2nd set bracketed by PLAYING IN THE BAND, punctuated by 2 excellent jams that start from near standstills, & excitement throughout. 28 minute PLAYING > THE WHEEL > SAMSON & DELILAH notable for patient improv & perfect segues, especially the gradual upshift into SAMSON. after clean SAMSON ending, band jumps back into 6m of PLAYING-like jam before stumbling half-gracefully into confident COMES A TIME. DRUMZ falls into a waaay too fast EYES OF THE WORLD, hiccuping/pausing before garcia leads way into miraculous & moody thematic jam. dick latvala named it ORANGE TANGO JAM for “dick’s picks 20.” only one, i think. like a mature post-”blues for allah” SPANISH JAM. speedy DANCING IN THE STREET ends before a standalone PLAYING REPRISE. weir even sings JOHNNY B. GOODE well. wtf?
9/30

9/30/76 columbus: flat soundboard & fuller/noisier audience tape transmogrified into nice sounding matrix mix. show-opening MUSIC NEVER STOPPED has more pronounced MIND LEFT BODY break than usual (3:52-5:00), highlighting how jam got repurposed. 15 minute CRAZY FINGERS with lovely corners that seem like they’re going to emerge into new changes, but don’t. last version ’til ’82. sad! 11 minute SCARLET BEGONIAS stays contained, as usual, though garcia gets into some big spaces & invents elegant denouement before reprise. fun to be had, but not much adventure in 40m ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > DRUMZ > WHARF RAT > NOT FADE AWAY > ST. STEPHEN. even played crisply, i’m just not into slowed-down ST. STEPHEN, though garcia pushes EYES-like prettiness en route to NOT FADE AWAY. last MORNING DEW encore. whispering final solo finds sublime jerry/keith dialogue. existential respite today/any day.

10/1/76 indianpolis: warm soundboard mix. not into the new clipped rhythmic feel on BERTHA opener, but groovy garcia vocal ad-libs. chattering cowbell prevents 11 minute SCARLET BEGONIAS from gliding into full chillness. some sweet off-mic vocalizations by donna jean. another epic SLIPKNOT! with aggressive big-eared weaving. eventually keith locks into quiet melancholic changes while garcia sketches. 1st split-open DANCING IN THE STREET goes into DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > SHIP OF FOOLS before a full stop & standalone DANCING reprise. THE WHEEL lands in more tangled garcia/lesh/godchaux conversations before dissolving perfectly into SHIP OF FOOLS.

10/2/76 cincinnati: only dead show at riverfront arena, site of ’79 Who stampede. drab audience tape leaves plenty to imagination. BROWN EYED WOMEN kept the same non-jammy form from ’71-’95, but garcia’s solo restating the melody getting more abstract post-hiatus. not much freshness, even in 13 minute LET IT GROW, though 2nd set opening MUSIC NEVER STOPPED has another cool MIND LEFT BODY break. 2nd set jam sequence is 39m DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > THE OTHER ONE > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. weak bass drop into 10m THE OTHER ONE, but crowd audibly perks up at energy. donna now singing on chorus. not much happening in jam. sleepy STELLA BLUE now regularly over 10m, gorgeous piano & brief but surprising outro jam into OTHER ONE reprise. #deadfreaksunite [6/6]

10/3/76 detroit: last night of 9-show eastern swing. bright soundboard with punchy bass via “30 trips” box. 1st set bounces right along, lots of ’71-’72 songs. very present lesh. drummers may’ve claimed BERTHA, but garcia still owns SUGAREE. rolling groove on SCARLET BEGONIAS swells inventively. impeccable MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, continuing to peak after MIND LEFT BODY break. 67 minute 7-song segue in 2nd set has multiple surprises but begins with 10m PLAYING IN THE BAND that dissolves to DRUMZ without doing much. left turns begin in THE WHEEL, which has 5m of high-speed excitement before 1st GOOD LOVIN’ since 10/74, only 2nd since pigpen era. weir’s GOOD LOVIN’ is my definition of a boring twirl-ready oldie, but here veers into PLAYING-like mode, driven by godchaux’s piano. graceful landing in beautifully sung COMES A TIME. 90 second spiraling guitar outro makes an easy bridge into DANCING IN THE STREET.  DANCING, too, drops into uncharacteristic dense jam with busy piano clouds, eventually a 14m NOT FADE AWAY that feels like a breather. weir segues into CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER intro, which gets cheers but no musical traction, just the ending to DANCING.

10/9/76 oakland coliseum stadium: 1st of 2 shows with the who, the dead opening on saturday, starting at 11am. SCARLET BEGONIAS is all afternoon sunshine, godchaux on rhodes, cowbell mixed pleasantly low, garcia finding new jam grottos. pleasant 1st set. magnificent 11 minute SUGAREE closer builds to ecstatic crest & slow descent into sweet quiet valley before final chorus. not always into ST. STEPHEN/NOT FADE AWAY/ST. STEPHEN, but band achieves a deep & creative choogle midway through & hits big reprise. crisp no count-off HELP ON THE WAY in THE ELEVEN’s former spot, garcia’s solo finding fresh & dramatic loopholes & pathways. SLIPKNOT packs in 5m of riveting improv action (& cool drop-down) before DRUMZ/SAMSON & DELILAH & long purposeful SLIPKNOT reprise. FRANKLIN’S TOWER hits escher-like flow, somehow always rising back into itself. 2 songs that follow seem unnecessary.

10/10/76 oakland coliseum stadium: 2nd day on the green with the who. stage set involves a phone booth? over 2 gigs, dead only repeat chuck berry’s PROMISED LAND. pete townshend supposedly shocked; who’s been playing same set for a year. 1st set capped by 15m DANCING IN THE STREET, which garcia pushes into exciting mini-jams, smoothly into WHARF RAT & back to DANCING. 52 minute sequence in 2nd set is almost paint-by-numbers, PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > PLAYING. groovy messy space-jazz textures on PLAYING, but feels reined-in by 2nd drums. 10 minute WHEEL bends into exhilarating exchanges. STELLA BLUE impressively quiet for a stadium, but getting stiffer. still unclear why mickey hart couldn’t just sit out occasionally? set’s most thrilling & coherent improv comes in 3 minutes of post-STELLA BLUE confusion before gelling into PLAYING ending.

10/14/76 shrine auditorium: 1st LA show since 7/74 & 1st at shrine since ’68. 1st set is murky audience tape. triumphant SCARLET BEGONIAS. weir & drummers peak but jam keeps going. garcia & lesh blow through & find gorgeous minute-wide vista. the MIND LEFT BODY jam has left the MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. when crisp soundboard kicks in, MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP still feels a l’il sluggish, ditto SHIP OF FOOLS, though donna nails outro part. big jam is 30 minute DANCING IN THE STREET into WHARF RAT & back, 2nd in 2 shows. more purposeful. garcia unties knots under bass chords. jam peels back to kreutzmann & garcia, who slow down together & land perfectly in WHARF RAT before huge reprise.

10/15/76 shrine auditorium: last touring show of ’76 comeback. pleasant 1st set, 2nd filled with nice surprises. vibey garcia tunes with fine singin’ & full-band punctuation, especially on dramatic LOSER & long, lazy SUGAREE that unfolds over 10 minutes. rare EYES OF THE WORLD 2nd set opener immediately jumps into 3 minute garcia/phil jam, underscoring how rare that mode has become. [great EYES all 'round, a click uptempo, spidery dialogues & short rich outro that weir upshifts smoothly into MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. 1st HE'S GONE since 10/74 (& mickey's return) does a gospel sway into DRUMZ & then great 14m OTHER ONE filled with bliss tangents. soulful, dynamic COMES A TIME in ballad slot. ultra-lyrical & expressive garcia solo blooms unexpectedly into bright FRANKLIN'S TOWER. well-earned SUGAR MAGNOLIA (with tiny coda jam) ends with shrieks that i thought were donna 'til she started singing.

12/31/76 cow palace: 1st new year's since '72, a co-headline with santana, & 1st of 16 consecutive NYE gigs. soundcheck reported to be RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH (covered by keith & donna with garcia on 1975 LP), which woulda been something. questing 23 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND fights free, finds ample room to get lost & (i think) garcia's 1st use of delay & mu-tron pedals. bill graham leads a very bill graham midnight countdown, impossible to count with. SUGAR MAGNOLIA to ring in '77, palpable big energy. speedy EYES OF THE WORLD sails into beautiful interlocking jam by garcia/weir/lesh/keith before clearing into starlight of WHARF RAT. GOOD LOVIN' sprouts 2 short bright jams like it's still the pig era, 2nd turning into SAMSON & DELILAH (played at 37 of 41 '76 shows). garcia & co. get down to incredible drumless quiet during SLIPKNOT. phil tries to start STRONGER THAN DIRT during DRUMZ, but no bites. for encore, 1st UNCLE JOHN'S BAND & BID YOU GOODNIGHT since 10/74. 1st UJB without phil vocals. donna sounds nice. hefty outro. garcia fully committed on great GOODNIGHT, almost possessed, while keith & drums comp along.

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