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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

RFK

My First Grateful Dead Show: 24 Years Ago

It’s been 24 years since my first Grateful Dead show. This piece, describing that day, first appeared on my website fourteen years ago. I have revised it somewhat but it’s mostly unaltered.

 

RFK 1991-06-14

It began, actually, as most any other day in my high school career. But, as I lay in bed, ignoring my alarm clock and blinking the sleep from my eyes; an unsettling thought crossed my mind. It entered, echoed and hung there a bit like an early-morning winter fog.

“The Grateful Dead are playing tonight.”

This alone was not too remarkable as they played on quite a few nights of the year, even in 1991. On this particular night, however, they were playing in my town and I was not going.

I’d never been to a Dead show before; nor any concerts, in fact. This was due to various parental reasons and the fact that I had never found anything so worth rebellion that I’d test my parents crazed midnight curfew. So, on this day, I knew the Dead were in town and I shrugged it off and let it go. Clamoring downstairs, I threw Workingman’s Dead on the record player and commenced my pre-school ritual. June 14 marked the last day of school for my Junior year. I ate my daily frozen-waffle breakfast, hopped into my (Dad’s) Camry and headed to school. Continue reading

THe Spectrum

20 Years Ago: Unbroken Chain

Keeping the clock wound back to twenty years ago, I could be found, in the early morning hours of March 19, 1995, collecting my friend Joel and my girlfriend from their homes and aiming my ’83 Datsun Sentra toward Philadelphia. Several of our friends had gone up two days earlier for the Grateful Dead shows but, due to wanting to keep my job (as mentioned in a previous post), I had stayed behind to work. But, not on Sunday. We aimed to arrive early and scour the lots for tickets to that weekend’s third (and ultimately final) show at the Spectrum. It would be only the second time I’d gone to a Grateful Dead show without a ticket in-hand. It would also be the last.

It was still dark when we left Northern Virginia. I don’t like to be late for anything. The air was chilly with few clouds as we crossed the Susquehanna River Bridge in Maryland at sunrise. It didn’t warm up too much. We arrived in Philly for breakfast, laid back in a nearby park, and waited for the masses to arrive so that we could begin the process of asking each and every one of them for their extra tickets. This is a process that I never enjoyed and always sought to avoid. Walking through rows of parking lots with a handmade sign, shouting my hope to purchase or barter an exchange for an extra ticket. We met up with our friends. Only one of the three had gotten into a show so far. None of them had tickets for this Sunday show. Things were looking grim but I kept looking. Continue reading