It's hard to think of a better salve for these horrific times in America than taking in a Dead show on cool, green grass with good friends. It's a temporary trip into the past, into a better version of what this country can be. The community, the music: It's all there, and it can't be taken away.
I'm being a little glib, but, honestly, it felt momentous
to be able to walk into Blossom last night (through rigorously Orwellian security lines, sure) and leave the aneurystic news cycle behind for a while. It helped immensely that somehow the mind-numbing traffic jams of last year's show didn't happen this time around, and the gray clouds above the hilly Cuyahoga Valley National Park gave us a break and refused to rain.
See a full slideshow of concert photos here.
As far as the show? Listen, there's no better way to usher in the Summer Solstice than a Dead show. The band was in fine form last night, continuing a nice tour filled with inventive setlists. They're becoming
something lately, something more than the visceral dose of nostalgic energy that they might otherwise represent. John Mayer's chops are still a subject of endless musing on the lot, but by and large he's come into his own in this era of Dead history.
I think I was saying this last year, too, but Jeff Chimenti seems to steal these shows more often than not. His delicate, sometimes trace-inducing playing in "Feel Like a Stranger" and "Row Jimmy" kept the first set in a pleasant state.
Of course, it was the second set where things became truly immersive. I was pleased to catch a sublime "Scarlet" > "Fire," my personal favorite in the Dead canon. The segue is one of the best moments in American rock 'n' roll, for my money, and, as always, it glides effortlessly out of the melodic ether. Last night's take was dynamite.
The "Dear Prudence" was a nice cherry on top of the whole thing, to say nothing of a beautiful ode to Bob Dylan in the encore slot.
Dead & Company taps into what's good and right in this country, and there's no denying the power of music in bringing people together on a cool summer night.
Hell of a night. It was the band's 100th show, too, so here's to another 100!