Thursday, October 16, 2014

Grateful Dead @ Giants Stadium, Meadowlands, NJ 06/17/91

How is it that I can't remember anything about many of my early concert events but I can remember everything about a certain Grateful Dead show for over twenty years ago?

Funny you should ask...

This was set to be a classic night.  My first Grateful Dead show.  There were six of us going and we were making the trek up to the Meadowlands of NJ to see them at Giant Stadium.  It was a Monday night and as soon as work was over we piled into his Subaru station wagon and hit the Turnpike. 

The energy in the car was unreal.  We were all so excited.  I was in the far back jumping around.  We were smoking pot and setting our plan for getting hits of acid in the parking lot before the show. If we were going to do this we were going to do it right. 

The rain of the day had slowed and hopefully it would hold out.  We arrived and parked.  We were like kids in a candy store.  Looking at tie-dyes and nitrous balloons.  We asked around and finally scored a sheet of acid.  They split them up and as I was waiting for my portion they all took their hits.  Then they pointed at me and said, "You're driving".


How could they do this to me.  I told them to stop kidding and they were not.  They explained that since I was the only one that had to work the next day I had to be the responsible one.   Dammit!  Instead of enjoying the show I was now going to be in charge of babysit 5 other guys on a few hits of acid each.  I don't know if I had ever been as pissed.

As the show was getting ready to begin I tried to wrangle them together so that we could get in.  We had already missed the opening band Little Feat and damn if I was going to miss the beginning of the show.  Unfortunately, I wasn't holding the tickets or I would have left them there. 

We got to our seats and wiped them off just in time for the start of the show.  Bruce Hornsby was with the band that night and opened up with 'Eyes of the World'!  That is a rarity in itself.  This was an extended version of it too.  The video screens were playing acid induced imagery that was blowing my mind.  This show was going to be historic. 

Before 'Masterpiece' The band started a jam which sounded like 'Dark Star'.  One by one the band kicked in and the crowd went nuts.  The jam turned to 'Masterpiece' though in the end.

The band was tight and on fire that night.  They were sounding incredible.  The second set included 'Ship of Fools', 'Trucking', 'New Speedway Boogie', and 'Uncle John's Band' before heading into 'Drums/Space'

Then the idiocy of the acid kicked in.  One of the guys we were with HAD to have food.  He couldn't walk to get it himself so he begged me to buy him something.  I took $20 from him and begrudgingly made my was to the concessions.  Just then I thought, Fuck him, I am buying myself something.  I bought a hot dog and soda and sat in the concourse enjoying the music.  I was watching fans dancing.  The band was in such a groove that people were having trouble keeping up.  I went back to my seat, without any food, and sat down.

5 minutes later the same guy asked if I had bought him food.  I told him that he forgot to give me money.  He gave me another $20.  This time I treated a few people to food before I sat back down.  Another 5 minutes and he asked again.  I told him he didn't give me enough money.  Another $10 came my way but this time I bought him something.  Which he threw up in less than 10 minutes.  Lovely.

The ended the second set with 'Sugar Magnolia' and encored with 'The Weight' which was incredible.  The band was top form that night.  I think that we all felt we had witnessed something special.  In retrospect is was nice bring straight for this one to fully absorb it.  Don't just take me word for it though.  Below you can choose to either stream the entire show or watch it.  Thanks to the open recording Policy of the Dead this concert is archived and will live forever. 

When the show was over, even though I was sad, I had had enough with my stoner entourage.  As I was working the next day and it was late I wanted to get on the road.  No one else did but I had the keys.  Unfortunately, no one could remember where we parked even though over half of the parking lot had emptied.

From across the parking lot we could see a crowd forming.  A large crowd.  We heard music which was like the pied piper to my bunch of idiot mice.  As we made our way over I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.  We got close and moved our way through the crowd to see what was going on.  In front of us was a VW bus.  On top of that bus was a man that resembled Jesus.  He was shirtless and wearing Guatemalan print pants.  His apostles were two, larger woman wearing Guatemalan print dresses.  The three of them were doing jumping jacks, which they called dancing, to the tune of YMCA by the Village People on repeat.  They jumped, the van bounced, the music played, the people cheered, repeat.  Parked directly next to that van was our car. 

At this point my friends little brother was mesmerized and wanted to stay. After he mouthed off to me a few times I jacked him up against our car and explained to him that I was leaving. With or without him.  After what seemed like an hour, I finally made it to the car and got in.  it was surrounded in what seemed like a hipster version of the Walking Dead.  I was moving this car whether anyone moved out of my way or not.  There was initial booing but immediately the crowd realized that they had a better view from the vacated parking spot.  No one was hurt in the moving of this vehicle.

As we made our way out of the parking lot everyone had their windows down except me.  They were hanging out of the windows like dogs an screaming.  We drove through a part of the parking lot that was vacated with the exception of two guys that were just standing by the road.  As I passed them I noticed they had a spray bottle that they were raising.  They sprayed the contents on my closed window.  It was liquid acid.  IT WAS LIQUID ACID!  How lucky was I???  Of course my car mates all felt how unlucky they were.  They proceeded to rub their hands on my window and then lick them.  This one and a half hour car ride was going to be a hoot.

We were on the NJ Turnpike and I was tired. I was also cranky.  It was after midnight and I had to be up at six.  Most of the passengers had crashed with the exception of shot gun.  He told me that I should pull into the rest stop after this motorcycle passed and he would drive so that I could sleep.  There was no rest stop.  There was no motorcycle.  There was, however, my fist in his chest.  He then went to sleep.  I had the rest of the ride to reflect on my night.  All things considered I saw an incredible show by a band in top form.  Four years later Jerry Garcia would pass away and there would be no more Grateful Dead shows.  I was truly grateful.  The craziness of that night is what makes it memorable.  I wouldn't change a single thing.

See you at the next show!


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