The Other Ones
Small wheel turn by the firing rod,
big wheel turn by the grace of God
every time that wheel go round
bound to cover just a little more ground
- Robert Hunter
The last time I saw the Grateful Dead
in New York City it was a three show run: 10.17.94 and 10.18.94 and 10.19.94. Bob Dylan
played with the Dead on 10.17.94 and the encore of Rainy Day Women
sticks out as an MSG classic... on 10.18.94 the boys busted out Help > Slip > Frank
to open and on the last show I ever show in NYC, the Dead opened with Feel Like a Stranger
and a sweet Terrapin Station
still joggles my fuzzy mid 1990s memory.
Of course I was going to the show with the Grateful Dead Guru, Bruce Cohen
, who upon meeting Jerry Garcia
(the same day I did, in June of 1995 when we were security guards at the Met Museum) quickly confessed, "Bro, I have been seeing the Grateful Dead since 1978 and you guys fucking rock!"
I took Jessica to her first Dead related show and she said how she heard that "the Grateful Dead without Jerry Garcia is like chocolate cake without the icing."
It was a cute, sugary way to sum up the loss of the nine and half fingered fat man, but I was quick to point out that Jerry's death was a much bigger impact that she had indicated... to me, the Other Ones (and Phil & Phreinds) is methadone, and the Grateful Dead is full blown heroin.
The rest of the gang gets you buzzed, but it's a maintenance high... no where near the intensity and euphoric body highs that the Grateful Dead were able to bring night after night since 1965.
We met Bruce at the Garden Tavern before the show and on our way we walked right in front of Penn Station and MSG where the convergence of rush hour suburban commuters were met head on with Deadheads and hippies and beatniks from all over the place... the looks on some tourists faces were classic, as they were trying to decipher the slang and lingo of "Fatty nugs for your extra"
and "I need a miracle"
... Jessica would count all the dogs she saw, as we slowly made our way through the crowd. I think her final count was seven or eight pooches, puppies, and tour dogs. What's a show without a random dog walking around?
Security was light and the pat down was half-assed at best... as we made our way to our seats in Section 102... I got a voicemail from Spider. He was headed home on the LIRR in Penn Station when he saw a bevy of phishkids, crusties, wookies, spinners, and tour rats and figured that I had to be close by. LOL! He was right. I was just sitting down as he called, and when I took off my jacket I got an immediate compliment from the guy sitting behind me.
"Cool shirt, bro. That get up is far out!"
Seriously, he said that. I had on one of my infamous show shirts. And then proceeded to ask everyone what the boys will open with.
"Most likely a five minute warm up jam, then they'll bust into Shakedown Street..."
, I offered up.
"Nah, I wanna hear Help > Slip > Frank."
I thought about the show I saw nearly 8 years earlier when the Dead opened up with Help > Slip > Frank
and I got goosebumps. When Bruce Cohen made his way over to our section he sat down in the row behind us, and has the entire row to himself for a while! The guy behind me asked Cohen what the boys will open with he too said, "Shakedown Street".
The guy was shocked. He couldn't believe it. He told Bruce that I said the same thing. Little did he know that we were friends, and we had been putting out the same vibe!
Set 1: Jam> Viola Lee Blues, Iko Iko, Music Never Stopped, Alligator> Uncle John's Band Jam> Baba Jingo, Shakedown Street> Good Lovin'
The show started at 7:50 PM... with a surprise opener of Viola Lee
... it was OK and solid, but the crowd was still making their way into the show and I thought the sound was slightly uneven the first few songs... the keys and piano were up a lot higher than Phil Lesh's
bass and I was not pleased. After everyone smoked up, they played Iko Iko
, where of course I got a flashback of the 1994 MSG Iko Iko
with Jerry leading the way. It wasn't quite the same, but the crowd was digging it... and slowly getting more and more into the show. At some point a girl sitting next to us turned around and just introduced herself.
"Hi, I'm Christine..."
she said with a big smile, big eyes, and a thick Long Island accent.
She should have said, "I'm fucked up and rolling hard! What's your name?"
that would have been more appropriate. I figured out the other sure fire way to tell someone on Ecstasy is not just excessive hugging, but randomly introducing yourselves to strangers.
She introduced herself to Jessica and she went back to her dancing. She was outta of control and slightly annoying, kind of like that housefly that lands on your TV set every few minutes, then buzzes around your head for a while before disappearing... but I knew where she was coming from, and yeah, I'm sure I was in her shoes plenty of times, slightly annoying the people that sit next to me at random shows. So it was all good.
was singing with the band and she sounded great on the Music Never Stopped
, which had been a favorite Donna Jean
song of mine. I know Donna Jean got a lot of crap for her lack of harmony with the Grateful Dead, but in my opinion the Dead achieved perfection in 1977
, right smack in the middle of the Donna Jean & Keith Godchaux
years... Alas, Susan sounded great with the Other Ones, and at times I wish Bob Weir
would shut the fuck up and let Susan sing more. But then again, the Other Ones seemed to be more Bob Weir's band than Phil Lesh's. And because I am not a fan of Bob Weir, and a huge fan of Phil's... it was tough for me to watch and listen to Phil sit back and just be the team player instead of setting the tone like he did in Phil & Phriends and Phil Lesh Quartet. Phil Lesh is the backbone, and soul of the Grateful Dead. Jerry was and always will be the heart of the Dead, but Phil is the soul brother. And Bob Weir is 100% Cheese. And last night was no different.
I was expecting a few surprises and I got ALLIGATOR
! That was old school Dead, and right away I started thinking about Pig Pen
and how kick ass he was and how Pig Pen used to be the heart AND soul of the Dead before he died in 1974. It was a mellow version and I felt the crowd was getting more attached to the guys as the night went on. I wasn't all that impressed with Baba Jingo
and smoked a joint for most of that song. Not that I was bumming out or anything... I was having a good show... but that was it... it was just a good show... and just when I felt I was being let down... they busted out SHAKEDOWN STREET
OK, of course I wanted to hear Shakedown
. After all I named one of my football pool teams after it! So they boys busted out a heavy, funk driven, smashing Shakedown... and the crowd went nuts. They were waiting for it, I was waiting for it.. even Jerry was waiting for Shakedown Street. For the first time all night I finally got the Dead vibe that I have been chasing since 1995. It was sweet and gave me goosebumps and I was digging Phil's bass, which I could finally hear now, and I was very happy that they did not open with Shakedown because the crowd was not quite ready for it at 7:50 PM. We all needed to warm up a bit, get loose and fried, and when everyone was settled in, they let it rip.
Shakedown > Good Lovin'
was a nice segue, and although Good Lovin is not my favorite Dead song/cover song (I know Jerry loved playing it) I did get the Jerry vibe, and the crowd was into it. The rolling girl next to me, Christine said something that I thought was worth mentioning.
"You know, I don't think the energy is all together here tonight. I mean it's a little forced. I think they are holding back because this place, the Garden is Jerry's favorite place to play."
I nodded my agreement. They finished up the set just before 9 PM.
came out to play a 45 minute acoustic set. Just him, in his jeans and black T-shirt, and his guitar. A lot of people were talking and moving around like during any setbreak... and I even bolted mid way to take a piss. Of course I got plenty of compliments on my shirt in the hallways, where I saw a half of dozen people I recognized, but couldn’t quite recall who and where I know them.
The Hunter highlights included: Box of Rain, Candyman, Days Between, and Ripple.
I thought it was cool to hear him in between sets instead of opening for the Other Ones. As a writer I admire Robert Hunter's voice. He penned so many of the Dead's songs and is the lyrical genius behind the madness and circus side show.
Set 2: Spacey Vocal Chant> Tomorrow Never Knows> Jam> Dark Star(v1)> Watchtower> Dark Star(v2)> Cryptical Envelopment> The Other One(v1)> Drumz/Space> The Other One(v2)> The Wheel> Lovelight (with Warren Haynes & Derek Trucks)
Set Two began just before 10 PM. And they opened with a spacey vocal jam before heading into the Beatles
cover of Tomorrow Never Knows
. This might be one of my least favorite Beatles songs and I figured out that some how every band I go to see knows this and they almost always play it! Phish, String Cheese, Phil & Phriends
... they all seem to harass me by playing this song especially when I want to hear something else. Luckily it was one of those sit down and smoke songs... and when they pulled out of the jam, I heard Phil teasing Dark Star
. At that point I turned to Jessica and whispered, "I think they are gonna play Dark Star and when they do, the crowd will go nuts."
Less than a minute later they flowed into the first verse of Dark Star... followed by a nice and delicious Watchtower
. And I got another flashback of the Dead in 1994 playing Watchtower at MSG... and it was solid and Bob Weir held his own, but I think he stole a solo away from Jimmy Herring
and I was pissed! I wonder what Jimmy thought?
Watchtower was squeezed in the middle of the Dark Star sandwich and I heard a few Other One teases and they finally gave in and played a solid Cryptical > Other One
before heading into Drums & Space
. They were playing tight, but I was let down by the song selection in the beginning of Set 2 and hoped for a much more free flowing final run.
They pulled out of Space with the last verse of the Other One
and it was loud and tight and I was ready for something next and then they played THE WHEEL
. I saw them play that on Late Night with Conan O'Brien
and it was a silly version compared to last night. Susan on vocals was hot and the crowd's energy peaked at the end of the Wheel. If Shakedown Street was the high-water mark in Set 1, the Wheel was the mark in Set 2.
As they started to play the beginning of Lovelight
, I saw that Warren Haynes
had made his way onto stage. I dig Warren and I miss him playing with Phil Lesh. LOVELIGHT rocked. I got a Pig Pen, a Jerry and Señor
vibe all rolled into one! It was fun and the entire MSG crowd was loving the back and forth vocals between Susan and Warren Haynes. They really made Lovelight the kick ass tune it is, and stepped up a version of a song that always failed to match the intensity and heavy drunken blues vocals of Pig Pen. That's why the Dead never (rarely) played Lovelight after Pig Pen died.
The encore was as expected: Sugar Magnolia
. It's the anthem of the Grateful Dead, and Jerry's vibe was all over the place as everyone was getting their last bit of Dead flow in them before they went home. Bob Weir cheesed it out, but what's Sugar Mags without Bobby Cheese?
If they busted out Terrapin
, that would have made my show. But it was Sugar Mags, and I left feeling not as satisfied as I usually am when I leave shows. My expectations were high and I was let down. But I left hoping that Phil & Phreinds goes back on tour because I think I like a smaller unit headed by Phil Lesh is where my mind wants to be post Grateful Dead.
I have to say that the Other Ones is a little too much for me. It makes me miss the Dead and Jerry even more, and I think there are too many people on stage, playing too many notes. With 2 drummers, and 2 key board players, and 2 guitar players with Bob Weir cheesing it out whenever he can, its just too much, and when Warren came out I realized how much I like Phil with Warren Haynes & Jimmy Herring on guitars and NO BOB WEIR... that's why I love Phil & Phriends... oh well. When they have too many sounds going on it's really distracting for me. That's why I like smaller groups, like Medeski, Martin & Wood
and Phish. 3 and 4 guys and that's it. Ah, but Phish is back together so my mind is focused on them once again.
All in all a solid night, with good people and great memories, and a better than average show. I'll give it a 6.5
out of 10.