Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dark Star Orchestra, 2-12-13, Carnegie Music Hall

In 1971, I was one.  So I didn't make the road trip to New Haven for this Dead show. 

Grateful Dead
July 31, 1971
New Haven, CT
Yale Bowl

Set List:

Mr. Charlie
Mama Tried
Big Railroad Blues
Playing In The Band > Dark Star > Bird Song
El Paso
Hard To Handle
Me And Bobby McGee

Big Boss Man
Me And My Uncle
China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
Sing Me Back Home
Sugar Magnolia
Casey Jones
Not Fade Away > Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad > Jam > Not Fade Away

* Uncle John's Band > Johnny B. Goode 

Fortunately, the good people of Dark Star Orchestra were kind enough to recreate this "gem."  I use that term loosely.  Because my taste in the Dead is VERY specific.  I only listen to 1985 >1990.  Generally speaking, I have a low tolerance for early 1970's stuff.  The sound is just way too dreamy.  There's virtually no punch, no cohesion to the set lists of that era.  Everything meanders around like a dumbshit seeking a license renewal who shows up at the West Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles with no identification.  You'd think a library card in tandem with a Golden Chopsticks frequent lunch special ticket would be ample proof of your identity.  You would be mistaken.  Identity theft is serious shit.  Even if you're some toothless, backwoods hick from Sistersville.  But I digress.

Amanda drove this one.  Payback for the slew of Starlake concerts I hauled her to in 1999 or 2000 or whatever summer that was.  A decade ago, Amandasar was my scalping protege.  
My favorite tale of lore... In 2003, we were at a Poison concert.  We're in our usual position, milling around at the top of the steps by the main gate.  The police were in the act of arresting some miscreant.  As the guy was cuffed and being led to the cruiser, Amanda stepped into the fray...

Amanda: "Excuse me officer, is he going to the concert?"
Pig: "No ma'am.  He's going to jail!"
(Keep in mind, this guy has blood streaming down his face.) 
Amanda:  "Well, if that's the case, can I have his ticket?"
Pig:  "Uhhh, I dunno.  That would be up to him."
Bloody dude: "Yeah, she can have it.  It's in my back pocket.  I can't get to it.  My hands are cuffed"
Amanda:  As she physically reaches in the guy's jean pocket and extracts the ticket.  "Thank you very much!"  (Jubilantly holding the ticket high in the air) "Look Saf, I just scored a freebie!"

The only thing missing was a cartoon caption that read "YOINK!!!" (during the ticket extraction process).

It was at this precise moment...  I knew that "student had become teacher."

The Karate Kid, Part II (1986) - Memorable quotes

Sato: [smiles at Miyagi] Your student become my teacher
[shouts] Sato: O-bon will be held in castle, now and forever! [Cheering. Sato and Daniel shake hands] 

So back to last night... 10 years later in 2013.
Accompanying us was another Wheeling couple, Holly and Jimmy.  They were kind enough to surrender shotgun and we pulled out around 6:30 pm.  I regaled everyone with the routine discussion of stampedes and death by crush asphyxiation. 

So we got turned around a little bit.  Never a good idea in Homestead.  Even gun toting Ted "Nutella" Nugent would be scared of this kill-zone.  Not a huge deal though.  We made it into the venue pretty much as the band took the stage.  From the early notes of Truckin', I immediately sensed it was going to be one of "those" shows (super early, hippified 70's).  A lengthy Sugaree confirmed my suspicions.  Glancing at the set list, I think my personal highlight was "Me and My Uncle."  Kind of an odd choice considering the Dead used to play that song ad nauseum.  The "Big Railroad Blues" took me back to a 1992 summer Starlake show.  That may have been the only time I heard them play that tune.
Two of my favorite Dead tunes are "Loser" and "Deal"... but not these early, exhausting renditions. 

Strangely enough, the original show may have coincided with my birthday which falls on August 1.  I could envision that concert in the Yale Bowl lasting well past midnight.  I'm sure the ivy league hippies of the Nixon administration would have concurred... it was a long one.  So anyway, you might consider this a potential birthday miracle show.  Dare to dream...
But alas, there would be no miracle ticket last night.  I paid the full $25 admission fee.  I'm okay with this.  DSO is worth $25.  Though at the $30 mark, I'd start to get a little squeamish.  

When it comes to concerts, I'm usually a big fan of the old school theaters.  I enjoy the acoustics and the throwback setting.  Makes things vastly more entertaining than a concert at the newly refurbished, excessively vacuumed Wheeling Island Ballroom.  But the staff were just too obtrusive.  They're a little aggressive when it comes to shining flashlights and admonishing people for standing in the aisles.   It makes you wonder how they act when there's a hard rock band.  I gave serious thought to hitting up Queens of the Stone Age when they came there a few years back.  I have trouble envisioning how that crowd would've functioned.  Old lady ushers desperately trying to squelch stage diving and mosh pit antics?  That's a recipe for disaster.

I had a good time, but in retrospect, I might finally be done with DSO.  Unless I can be assured in advance they'll play a show from the late 80's.  But as we all know, when it comes to the magic spontaneity of the Dead, or in this case, DSO...


amandape said...

Wow, I think I am done with dead cover bands too. How many times can you really relive a moment. I love you, Saf. You a great and great teacher!

amandape said...

Friend... I should consider proof reading.

Anonymous said...

Workingman's Dead and American Beauty were milestones in rock music. Absolutely the BEST Dead albums ever made. I attended 3 GD concerts while Jerry was still alive. Unforgettable experience.

One of the benefits of being an old guy is we got to see all the really cool bands (that now fall under the genre of "Classic Rock") while they were in their prime. Nobody could have guesed that they would be so idolized 40 years later. Back in the day, they were rebels and renegades bucking the system. We had a real counter culture that scared the crap out of straight people and our parents. Being part of it was a blast. You had to have been there in order to really appreciate it.

sonofsaf said...

Amanda - I read your blog too. I liked your description of the "squirrel fighting" hippie dancers. I agree... the energy level in that crowd was very uneven.

Anonymous - Thanks for your input. I think the most powerful perceptions and interpretations of "the scene" are largely based upon WHEN you experience them. It's all about the time frame.

In my case, I hit up about 50 dead shows in my early and mid 20's. During that time, my sensibilities were really heightened. I was constantly seeking entertainment and stimuli. Nowadays, I still seek amusement - but it just takes a different, more measured form. And the stakes are considerably higher.

Gmax said...

Ha, I think I'm done with DSO too. I had a good time but will probably never go again. I'd rather go see a band that plays their own version of Dead tunes for now on.


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