It has been 40 years since the iconic, well shared, famous, and arguably best tour in the history of the Grateful Dead. 5/8/77 was the iconic show at Cornell University which became a well-shared and go-to resource for converting new fans. This year saw a remastered release of that show and the Capitol Theater hosted a listening party that was very well attended. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of 1977, the Dark Star Orchestra has been playing full setlists from ’77 shows that align with their tour dates. 5/19 was one such show and I was there.
Dark Star typically played a full show with the exact setlist the Dead played and after the encore, they would announce the original date. Other times they would make up a custom setlist. The setlist for 5/19/77 at the Fox Theater was:
Set 1- Promised Land, Sugaree-> El Paso, Peggy-O, Looks Like Rain, Row Jimmy, Passenger, Loser, Dancin’ In The Streets Samson & Delilah, Ramble On Rose, Estimated Prophet, Terrapin Station-> Playin’ In The Band-> Uncle John’s Band-> Drums-> The Wheel-> China Doll-> Playin’ In The Band
Set 2- Samson & Delilah, Ramble On Rose, Estimated Prophet, Terrapin Station-> Playin’ In The Band-> Uncle John’s Band-> Drums-> The Wheel-> China Doll-> Playin’ In The Band
Knowing this was on deck coming in made for a unique experience. Tired from a busy week and particularly busy day was fine when I saw this would be a rather quiet set. Six of the eight tracks in the first set are relatively slow. Again, not a problem. I had only decided to attend the night before when I saw tickets were available and I did the math. $40 for four hours of music is a great deal plus I knew I’d see some friends.
The evening started with tacos across the street with a business colleague and his family. We are new acquaintances and I was excited to hear his love for music. Bonus points for a Friday night gig with the wife and kid! They were lovely and bought me tacos. Across the street is the shakedown corner where (depending on the band playing) artists display their wares and look for tickets. I saw some friends and headed over to browse and help secure tickets. The tacos weighed me down but seeing friends and beautiful and uplifting.
It seems there are some distinct sections at the Cap. The front stage right is standing room with minimal dancing while the opposite end of the floor is all dancing. The balcony is mostly sitting, and the lobby is spinning while avoiding smokers on their way outside and bouncers removing people. I tried the front stage right area because the smoothest path forward took me there. Before the first song ended I made my way to the back opposite corner and sure enough, dancing. As the pace of the setlist slowed I wandered back to chat with the Wharf Rats and watch the show from behind the bar. I recognized my spinning friend from some other shows there and in the city; the one who looks like Edie Brickel. We shared a smile and a dance.
More friends materialized during set break and I was grateful for the community and family that has developed since my first Dead show in the 90s. This show was relaxing and quiet for me. I listened from the back, I was tired in a fully-used-up way and I was content. People danced in front of me who were excited and lively. Some were ecstatic and thrilled. I experienced their joy and was present to that missing for me at the moment. Not that I missed the feeling per se, more that I noticed it was simply not there… and that was neither good nor bad. I simply was how I was and that’s what there was to be. Thinking about all these shows, I wondered if I was feeling jaded. The realization though was just as some days are exciting and others are calm, some shows are exciting and others are calm. The energy doesn’t diminish the joy of being there. I was there in every way and it was perfect.0 likes