The psychedelic cowboys of Dead and Company continued the never-ending journey of the Grateful Dead’s transcendent musical catalog this past Wednesday at the legendary Deer Creek. Deer Creek has a history filled Grateful Dead past.. Which perhaps laid the framework for one of Dead and Company’s best shows to date. In addition to the infamous gate-crashing incident in 1995 Jerry Garcia also received death threats from radical Deadhead-hippie-haters, to which Garcia responded with “Don’t murder me!” from, “Dire Wolf”. A common Deadhead favorite, Deer Creek 1989, also has made its mark on collective Deadhead memory.
In order to pay dues to the past and relieve sweet memories from 1989 the boys came to Deer Creek with a mission. As the Indiana summer heat settled into a cool but warming breeze the boys heated up with a monumental, “Other One” opener. Holy smokes. Everyone at Deer Creek had their eyebrows blown off with this one. For the past couple shows the boys have teased the Neal Cassady inspired, “Other One”, coming out of space and I guess they figured they finally decided to let the beast out at Deer Creek. With flawless execution, the beatnik space exploration jam shifted gears into the hootenanny, “Dire Wolf”.
“Feels Like A Stranger” came next and funkified the country-folk vibe cemented by, “Dire Wolf”. As my bones began to groove a kind head next to us approached us with a doob to celebrate the collective groove we all had reached. Shout out, Mitch! Well, I think that was your name. Regardless, so many smiling strangers. I glanced at the exuberant crowd, all adjourned with smiles and sunshine rays, and the boys melted into, “Row Jimmy”. “Row Jimmy” gets a lot of bad rep from some heads, I believe. My man Grateful Dean, I’m looking at you! I catch your show reviews everytime and I love what you do but, “Slow Jimmy” has a spot in my heart! The slide guitar brought on by Bobby takes my imagination to the part of Deadland that, “Uncle John’s Band” and “Lazy River Road” reside in. After chilling out the vibe, as true masters of energy, the boys went back into dance mode with “Mississippi Half-Step”. Once again the boys took it upon themselves to shift the energy with, “Comes a Time”, featuring Oteil on vocals. Masters of energy and reflexive existentialism, “Comes a Time”, is a tune that echoes mystical distant meaning that the Dead excel at.
Just when the first set couldn’t get any tastier Mayer reached for his PRS guitar. With a smile on Mayer’s face and a boogyin’ crowd, Weir launched the band into the jug-band favorite, “Viola Lee Blues”. The psychedelic sky opened up amidst the smoky haze at Deer Creek. Everyone was immediately entranced into a collective bounce, the bounce we’re so familiar with in Deadheadland. “Viola” tied the whole first set together and left everyone beaming with excitement for the second set. A true show highlight.
After set break, the boys returned to the stage and opened with, “Help on the Way”. The familiar minor chords sent a cheer throughout the entire audience. After bending minds and inviting the crowd into fantasy with “Help on the Way” the boys sent it into, “Slipknot”. “Slipknot” featured constrictive grooves and entrancing jazz improvisation by Chimenti. Where Chimenti goes the band follows. The interplay between Mayer and Chimenti echoes of the excitement between Jerry and Brent. When those two lock on stage the chemistry is prepared for a tasty jam. Now this “Slipknot” really explored every inch of what could be called the “Alcheringa” of Deadheads. Indigenous folk of Australia have a word, “Alcheringa”, which translates to “Dreamtime”. The indigenous folk of Australia often refer to this “Dreamtime” as a place that conjures up mysterious yet familiar and magical feelings. Now, this may be a bold statement but I believe the Dead unconsciously channel a feeling similar to what could be called the “Alcheringa”. Although the jam creates a new reality at every moment; the jam takes Deadheads in attendance to a plane of existence that is just as familiar as it is daringly new. Moments like this, “Help on the Way > Slipknot” are the moments Deadheads live for. Once the “Alcheringa” was channeled the boys relieved the audience with a culminating, “Franklins Tower”. “Franklins” left everyone at Deer Creek with sunshine in their hearts.
“Terrapin Station” was summoned next. Let my inspiration flow. As the opening F-chord rang across the Indiana hills I looked to my friend Jake with a smile on his face and he mumbled, “Terrapin”. It wasn’t just him, it was the whole crowd, collectively every Deadhead mumbled, “Terrapin”. Much like the way that you mumble to yourself, “Home sweet home” after you’ve gotten back home after a long journey. A glow of mystical solidarity bound the crowd and Mickey and Billy took everyone into, “Drums > Space”.
The boys pulled one out of the cosmic trick basket when they came out of space to finish, “The Other One”, which was unfinished in the first set. After the Neal Cassady inspired jam machine settled, “Standing on the Moon”, was sung by Weir. As I looked around Deer Creek I saw countless couples, including myself, holding onto their loved ones. A reflective yet outward tune, “Standing on the Moon” reached heights with sincerity from Weir and a crowd willing to surrender to love.
With everyone glowing inward the band decided to put everyone back in their dancing shoes with a “Sugar Magnolia” closer. After a sweltering day on Shakedown filled with Cosmic Charlie burritos, cheap beer, friendly jams, and smiling strangers I reflected that every day we share with our fellow heads with Weir leading the ship is truly a “Sunshine Daydream”.
The boys returned to the stage after a fantastic second set for a “Casey Jones” encore. The tie-dyed crowd poured back onto lot after the show and the rain began to fall. Despite the rain, we had warriors of the lot whipping up grilled cheese for all. My vegan girlfriend even caved to have a bacon grilled cheese. A happy ending to the night. The road continues to Atlanta.
Other One (Unfinished) >
Feel Like a Stranger
Mississippi Half Step
Comes a Time
Viola Lee Blues
Help On the Way >
Other One (Verse 2)
Standing on the Moon
Encore: Casey Jones