What a fantastic couple of New Year shows by Dead and Company at Bill Graham Civic in San Francisco! For those of you confused by this statement (um, and the New Year shows were in LA no?) read on. You see, part of the legacy of the Grateful Dead includes their infamous New Year’s shows in the SF Bay area. From 1966 and what is heralded as the start of San Francisco’s legendary annual New Year shows (Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service) through their later years (the notable exception being the Boston Tea Party show) the Dead rocked it local.
The Grateful Dead, San Francisco and New Year’s shows exist in any Deadhead’s DNA. I’m not going to dwell on the fact that Dead and Company ignored this fact, for me the Bill Graham Civic shows were my New Year’s. And they were amazing. You can catch the setlists here and here, these are my highlights – aided by notes from new friend Igor and his lovely wife Karen – thank you.
There is nothing like a Dead concert in San Francisco. The energy, spirits, and vibes are second to none. Add to that fact the shows were held in Bill Graham Civic and well, you get it. History was made here. Sunday marked the 100 year exact birthday of City Hall, the place was rockin, we were dancin (including the ushers), sweet smells wafted the air. Zero chance of rain in the Mission, the city was ready!
Never Miss A Sunday Show
You know it’s gonna rock, second set Sampson and Delilah and all. I grabbed an awesome handmade button (thanks Button Pusher) that said it all visually. This show augmented the reality – Sunday shows are the best.
Drums > Space
I’ve listened to all the streams and every night was blown away by Mickey & Billy and could not wait to witness it live. In San Francisco, Oteil climbed behind Billy’s kit and tore it up, it appeared that he did not want to give up the sticks. Oteil is no slouch on the skins, wow. On Monday, Zakir Hussein joined in which made it four drummers, I have no words to describe the psychedelic rhythms that spun in my mind.
I fully admit and embrace the fact that I am a huge Bobby fan. Bobby was rested, home and on fire. The interplay with Mayer and Oteil was fun to watch. “This Goin Somehwere” indeed. Samson was smoking, Estimated was flames! As they jammed into Eyes, Bobby was so far in the zone I wondered if he (or I) would ever surface again. I couldn’t help noticing how Oteil and Mayer watched him for cues throughout the shows, many times met with Bobby’s hand signs (once more around, jam it out). This was Bobby’s band, he’s proud of it and damn well should be.
This was a hometown show and damn straight the band was going to leave it all here. When John Popper emerged from the side of the stage and huddled with the band (what key are we in boys, let me grab my harmonica) the place went wild. Casey Jones damn near tore the roof off!
Oteil Bass Jam
Near the end of Eyes, Oteil laid down the jazziest, funked up bass jam. We all knew the cat could play, but holy motherlode, that was special.
“1st man takes the sails…
2nd takes the afterbirth,
3rd the planks and rails..”
We looked at each other, shook our heads in agreement, yep, we did not hallucinate it. Posibly the first mention of afterbirth in Dead history – priceless.
Lost Sailor > Saint, then Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower > Drums > Space > Looks Like Rain, The Wheel > Not Fade Away
Holy fucking shitballs! I was soaked from dancing, lost sense of place and time. Mayer styled Jerry, Stevie Ray, Jimi and, well, John Mayer all rolled into one epic set of tunes. The segues were seamless, the visuals amazing. As Mayer sang traces of “Stay” by Maurice Williams at the end of Wheel, once again I had to seek out confirmation that I was not the only one that heard it. So many notable moments during this set – Mickey showing Zakir some fine points of drumming, Bobby singing LLR evoked tears, Bobby coercing the crowd to take over NFA.
A fitting end, Bobby and Mayer sharing vocals was a nice touch. Ripple was awesome the night before, but Brokedown sealed the deal. On my hands and my knees, I said goodbye to the band, Bill Graham Civic, and made my way to the Bart, but not before I sampled some delicious lot food and grabbed a $5 shirt. I love this scene! Happy and healthy New Year all!