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Dead & Company at Hartford Civic Center- Hartford, CT

dead and co hartford
Thanksgiving week. Typically the plan with the family is to send everyone to their in-laws on Thursday so we can gather Friday. This frees my single-self up for travel to a Native American event held each year at Plymouth Rock. I highly recommend it and here are the details. This year, the family decided they were meeting on Thursday instead but I had already agreed to volunteer so anticipating having Friday night free, I purchased a ticket for the Dark Star Orchestra show in Huntington, Long Island. More changes to the plans! With the family free on Friday, I offered to spend time together and catch dinner and a movie. All this is to say I traded my Friday night DSO ticket for a Wednesday night Dead & Company ticket.
I had planned to stop at a casino in Connecticut on Wednesday night en route to Plymouth so a show in Hartford seemed perfect. The town has never appealed to me but shows are always great there. Plus, this would be my first time at the civic center since they started selling the name. It is currently known as the XL Center. After the second set, I noticed a t-shirt on a fan that said, “I still call it the Civic Center.” Right on. I do the same with Giant’s Stadium, Great Woods, and a few others as well.
Wednesday before a major travel holiday proved to be a terrible time to travel. Living near NYC is great for many reasons but when travel times comes, chances are people are leaving the densely populated areas. The two and a half hour ride took closer to three and a half but I made it to town, found cheap parking, and managed to get food and meet friends in the mini-shakedown before the show. 
dead and co elevator
One downside to arriving late is the line outside the venue. A quick lap around the building proved the main entrance may not have been the quickest but was certainly the warmest as we could wait indoors vs those standing on steps in the cold. My ticket came from a party of folk who splurged on a suite. Typically I’m not a fan of these seats. When I came in there was a sign pointing to a separate entrance to the suites but I wanted to be in the general area to visit friends closer to the floor. After waiting in the massive security line (that seems to move slower as more people wait to enter) I’m told I have to use the suites entrance and that there was no way to visit the other areas. Up an elevator, I went to a lobby with friendly and helpful staff who were confused by my request to go to the lower section. They apologized and lead me up to my suite. I only knew one person sharing the suite with us and was glad he’d be there. We hadn’t connected since Wormtown this summer.  We hugged and caught up as the music started.
The sound and view were great. The suite featured chairs and coffee tables (pushed to the side for dancing room), a sink with glasses, two rows of seats facing the arena, and a menu of insanely priced food that couldn’t possibly taste good. $34 for a pizza and $3 soda. We tried to ignore the kids running around but after a song, I wanted to explore anyway. The suites leave you feeling isolated and removed from the experience. I left the suite and walked around the curved hallway. At the first dead end, a staff member suggested I walk up a flight to a bar. There would be more room to dance but it was close to the ceiling and further from the stage; it was more open but also more isolating. I text my buddy to grab my things, he felt isolated as well. More than anything else, we’d miss our other friends meeting at the Wharf Rat table at set break. We were notified that the bar was closing during the second set but that there was a new location to try.
Another suite guest had tipped a staffer to allow us access to an empty suite on the bar level. Fantastic! Still far from the stage and other dancers, we took over the space. Just four of us dancing away. Then, I’m not sure how, word comes that there is, in fact, a way to the common area, the gen pop. We followed a long and winding hallway to an elevator that went right to the main level close to the Wharf Rat table. While we missed the meeting, there was still time to dance in the hallways and entrances to the venue. This is and has always been my favorite place to enjoy a show and the Civic Center has preserved its entryways. The concourse at MSG used to be on the same level as the seating entrance but after a recent renovation, you have to walk up a short flight of stairs to enter the main space. Just enough to alter the sound. In front of the table in Hartford was an opening into the venue were a half dozen dancers gathered and spun through the end of the set.
The music was on par with their other shows this year and I caught a few meaningful songs including Aiko Aiko and Black Peter both of which are closely tied to early Grateful Dead Memories. I left smiling at the great performance (my expectations are closer in line after a few shows) and headed to the casino to end my night. Walking into a casino (similar to shakedown) I plot how much money I am comfortable losing. Oddly, I left having made $475. This was the impetus for the recent holiday contest. Share the love, pay it forward, be kind, and keep on truckin’!
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