The "GD" show was extremely enjoyable.
First off, logistically things worked out well. Doomsday scenario suggestions regarding parking, etc, never came to fruition. Fact is most people chose not to drive. The Levi's Stadium parking lot itself was probably only half filled, since most of the parking spaces are owned by wealthy tech folks who didn't come to the event. The Blue lot, located across the street, was the party lot. Most winnebagos and buses were in that lot, as was "Shakedown Street", or more aptly put, "Shakedown Alley." It was about 25 yards long. Worth nothing, there's NOTHING sold on "Shakedown" anymore which can't be purchased everywhere and anywhere on the west coast.
The venue itself was staffed by people who were completely clueless, which on one level is a good thing since they didn't harass anybody. On the other hand, they didn't help clear the aisles, which became somewhat of a burden for people who had tickets. Getting to your seat was a problem if you waited until late in the game to enter the building, as most people went to "C Gate." The answer was "the other gate." I cruised right in (exiting was not easy for others, unless you moved toward the gate, like I did - I'm from Jersey; that's what we do).
The concession stands took forever as the people working them were complete morons. And the most tasteless aspect of the night was the roses, which were hung around the venue on these bulletin boards for fans to take upon entering/exiting. It was a nice touch by the promoter. It was a classless move by nearly every person working the event to STEAL roses when they left work. I saw one woman with at least 20, and every single female staffer had at least 3. That's theft. Those were for paying customers. But I digress...
Now the meat.
You could have stopped the show two songs in. Seeing Trey on stage, and more so, on the big screen, was a completion of the circle for many fans. It brought a smile to my face, as it did many others. It's something that needed to happen for nearly everyone aged 35-48. Something was made whole in that moment.
During the first set there was a lot of chatter because musically it was pedestrian, and we were all fine with it. Of course, the highlight was the epic rainbow which came out of nowhere, and from my angle was pointing right at Trey. I'm not one who believes in all the shit people believe in out here, but for that single moment...man, I was as close to a believer as I'll ever be.
A fucking rainbow.
Set break music was outstanding. :-) Turned to the guy next to me and said, "Uhh, this is amazing. Best music of the night." I noticed a lot of people dancing. It sounded somewhat like an endless Phish 1999 loop jam, but modernized somehow. Well played. Set break was LONG.
Second set was where the big guns came out, in a relative sense. Crypt > Darkstar > St. Stephen > Eleven was worth the price of admission, which in my case was $20. Oh, btw, there were tickets EVERYWHERE. So many extra tickets. No one could get rid of them. I bought a 200 level behind the stage and sat in 106. And I only bought that ticket because the seller had his illegal shirts he hawking confiscated by the police. I felt bad for the dude. Could have gotten in for free.
Back to the music...
...For the first time in the evening the band sorta handed the keys to Trey, and during S.S. it brought a tear to my eye. Now, if you know anything about me, I am fully of the mind Trey is not half the guitarist he was 20 years ago, and Phish is hardly worth seeing. But GD songs are paced much slower, and afford him a much wider latitude to get shit done, which he did.
Throughout the evening his tone was much more reflective of Jerry's than it ever had been in his career (including Va Beach), but it was during the first 30 minutes of the second set where he truly channeled and embodied the spirit of Garcia. It was a beautiful thing to witness. I couldn't help but think about how amazing he must feel, to be able to stand in that space and perform on that stage. Not sure I've ever been happier for another human being I don't know, this side of Cardale Jones.
Was it the greatest playing you've ever heard? Not a chance. In fact, the band was so lackluster it would have been impossible for it to be**. Trey was often alone, minus a few moments, give or take. But it truly was something you had to witness, and Trey sounded amazing.
Throughout most of the night Bobby took the lead on everything. That bothered me, but it is his band. Well, it's Phil and Bill's band, but sorta his too. It would have been preferable if Trey was able to take the lead vocals on many of the Jerry tunes, which for me, don't suit Bobby at all. That didn't stop the man though. Had Trey been given more leeway I think it would have opened up his comfort level a bit more. Throughout the evening you could see him deferring to the other band members, which is only natural. Toward the end of the night though Trey's energy was needed BIG TIME, as they started to lull after Drums/Space. Which, if I never hear again will be too soon.
All told, it was a momentous evening, even if the music was something I'll never listen to again (until my annoying friends force it upon at some party), at least not by choice.
For fans of the GD and Phish, if you can get to one of these performances it is certainly worth it. It soothes the soul in a strange way, and makes you feel good about the music we've all supported for so many years.
To the outsider going to the show last night, it was nothing special.
To the insider, it was as memorable as any show you've ever attended.
We are one with these bands, regardless of the ups and downs. And last night's show, and I'm guessing the remaining performances, will be more proof of this.
For those who missed it, or make comments like, "I stopped going after..." You have no leg to stand on because you don't even know what it is you missed. I wouldn't have known either, but like you, would have acted like I did.
**denotes - if on Ecstasy you thought it was great. I was sober. Note: To reply to "why is this about Trey" comment. Because the Grateful Dead made it about him to sell tickets. If they wanted to make this about Stu Allen there would have been 20,000 people there. That's why it's about Trey. Worth nothing, I thought Bill was great.