Friday, April 24, 2009


The Grateful Dead were in D.C. last week. I asked about 12 friends if they wanted to go see them with me at the "phone booth". Literally every one of them came back with, "It's too expensive" or "I'm just not feelin it".

The weird thing was that I agreed with both of these statements.  I've been listening to the Dead for a long time and consider myself a big Phil Lesh fan.  

So with no one to go with me, I just hopped on the metro and 15 minutes later I'm outside the Verizon Center cruising the sidewalk for the best prices from scalpers.  Luckily I find a $100 ticket for 35 bucks.  

It's always great to see the eclectic variety of fans that the Dead draws.  I find my seat facing the stage, remove my jacket to expose the only tie-dye shirt I own.  The early 40 year old-man sitting next to me (also alone), starts a conversation with me. 

Hippie: "Hey man you as excited about this I as I am?"
Me: "Definitely, but this is my first time seeing them live."
Hippie: "Ahh awesome mannnnn.  This is my 37th.  Welcome to the family dude.  I first saw them live in 82 in Pennsylvania.  The show cost $9 and I was so close to the stage I was givin hi-fives to Jerry. "

(We make small talk and I ask him what he does out here)

Hippie: "I actually work for the DOD on one of their bases."
Me: "Cool man, you don't look like it"
Hippie: "Yeah, that's what makes dead-heads so great.  We're all so different from the people we once were, growing up listening to them.  But they will always be the same to us."

(At this moment the lights go down, the crowd starts to cheer, and the faint/pungent smell of burning herb stings my nostrils)

Hippie: "Ahh sweet man, you want me to buy you a beer real quick?  My wife's at home and this is gonna be a great night of music!"

Indeed it was.  They played three sets.  The first being a real solid fast jam session.  The second bit slower with an emphasis on acoustic songs.  The last started out with an overly-long version of Dark Star but ended with a bang.  

The highlights were two covers which included an acoustic version of Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" (one of my favorite Dylan tunes too) as well as a cover of the Beatles "Come Together".

Despite it not being their song, enjoy both this version and this one as well by Dylan.  Poetry in motion.

They ended the night super strong with "Sugar Magnolias", "Uncle Johns Band", and "Ripple" as an encore.

There are just some nights when you walk home in the rain alone that you recognize the distinction between the words "alone" and "lonely".  While I went to this show alone, I left to find myself on the steps of the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop listening to a spontaneous acapella version of Uncle Johns Band sung by about 30 deadheads.

The Red Line is much more mellow and happy with background music.

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