Fare Thee Well – Chicago 2015

It’s been a week since I got home from Chicago and I’m still processing the experience of attending the Fare Thee Well shows. Herein, I shall relate the story of my weekend and, hopefully suss out a few things that I learned along the way.

We set off early on Thursday morning from Washington D.C. I and two of my oldest friends, Andy and Modi, with whom I’ve seen countless shows over the past twenty-plus years of friendship. This would be a big one. We were going to Soldier Field in Chicago for the final shows to feature the remaining “core four” members of the Grateful Dead. Two days earlier, Modi and I had marked the 20th anniversary of our last Grateful Dead shows. Now we were flying down the highway towards a great unknown. Having heard the Santa Clara Fare Thee Well shows, our expectations were tempered, at best. In fact, you could say that we were a bit dubious about what Chicago would bring. But, we were also excited. We’d been waiting months for this day to come, and finally, we were Chicago-bound. Continue reading


20 Years Later: RFK ’95

I was going to write a pair of posts, much in the vein of my recent Phish anniversary posts, describing my adventures at the final Grateful Dead shows at Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium. But I can’t think on those shows without peeling back a scab that, somehow, isn’t quite healed. These two shows were not my last Grateful Dead shows. That one is chronicled here: All The Years Combine. I think that it’s been difficult to write about these shows because of what the annual tradition of the Grateful Dead at RFK Stadium meant and, how the void has never been filled.

I attended my first concert at RFK Stadium. Not just my first Grateful Dead show; my first concert. I became instantly hooked on Grateful Dead. The magic that they and the audience injected into the mundane urban stadium was equally intoxicating. The stadium itself resonated with energy. Even though, objectively, the first show I attended was the best overall performance I’d ever see from the Dead, I returned to RFK each year. In between, I went to as many other shows, in as many other cities, as seemed reasonable. Btu I always went back. My batteries recharged in that stadium. Continue reading

Deer Creek

20 Years Later: Phish 1995-06-19 Deer Creek

When plotting my Summer ’95 shows, I decided that I wanted to go to Deer Creek for the Grateful Dead’s annual run at the shed. It had garnered a reputation as a great place to see a show with notable performances stacking up in recent years. GDTS, however, saw fit to deny that portion of my order. Not to be deterred, I ordered tickets to see Phish there instead. I acquired a pair of tickets and my friend, Scotty, got one for himself. As plans sorted themselves out, Scotty volunteered to drive us in his mother’s car. Happy not to risk my beat-up Sentra on such a haul, I gladly accepted.

Scotty is a great guy whom I had met at a Capital Center Dead show the previous Autumn. He sat right in front of us and, inevitably, we were drawn into conversation. (I totally called the “Hell In A Bucket” opener. Scotty was appalled to hear the suggestion but it was, in fact, a mortal lock and the correct call.) We learned that he and I lived no more than three miles apart and became fast friends. We were soon were trading tapes and hanging out regularly.

The day after the Nissan Pavilion show was a Sunday and an off-day for Phish tour. We took advantage of this to make the trip out to Indiana more leisurely as our return trip would be a hurried, directly-from-the-show drive. Scotty had to work on Tuesday (and so did I) so we enjoyed our drive that Sunday and made camp late that afternoon in a western Ohio state park. Continue reading

20 Years Later: Phish 1995-06-17 Nissan Pavilion

My fourth Phish show (much anticipated after my third, 1994-12-29) marked the first of that Summer for me. Phish was coming to Northern Virginia to our brand new shed and we were ready to make it a great time. I can’t begin to tally the number of folks I knew at this show and, among them, how many were seeing their first show. Our tickets were acquired via PTBM and a large local crew gathered to pre-game at the home of some friends a short drive from the venue.

It was a brilliantly hot, early summer day with blue skies and few clouds. Hydration and sunscreen were top requirements. Other requirements being fulfilled, we hopped into our rides and attempted to get into the venue. It being new territory for all of us, we only had a general idea of how to approach the spot. This, coupled with construction on Interstate 66 and a general degree of befuddlement that sometimes accompanies such events, led to a hectic trip into the lots. Fortunately, we had our trusty tape of 1989-05-28 (set two) blasting in Modi’s car. This helped us keep cool as we zigzagged through the cones and chaos of Northern Virginia’s roadways.

The parking lot was a dust bowl. While the venue had been completed for the season, the lots had clearly remained an afterthought. The absence of order and landscaping could not dissuade us, but the hot moonscape of the parking lot held little attraction once we encountered the heavy security presence, so we made our way into the show a bit early. Continue reading