Awesome! That's the only word that ican even possibly start to describe them. I've only seen them live once, and they were clear across on the other side of Giants Stadium. I can still remember that day like it was yesterday.
It was June 15, 1992. It was one of the most beautiful afternoons I had ever seen. We left for the stadium around 3 o'clock, arriving 45 minutes later. The parking lot was teeming with VW buses and all sorts of people. It was amazing, as if we had been magically transported back a few decades. We decided to walk around the overcrowded parking lot for a while, amazed at the sight of all these long-haired hippies in tie-dyes. I think they were the nicest people I ever met. Each one was different, but in some way the same. After an hour of walking around, talking with a variety of people and buying some things, we decided it was time to go in.
When we got to the gate, we were searched for any illegal substances we might have had. Making our ascent to the top of the stadium I could feel the excitement building inside me. I just had to scream. I received quite a response as others screamed in return. We arrived at our designated section, and decided to rest a while before the concert actually began. The opening act, The Steve Miller Band, was already playing. They were all right, but I knew the real show would start in just a little while. The Steve Miller band had just finished playing when it started to get dark. All the lights in the stadium went out except for the purple lights behind the stage. Then they came on, but it was so dark I couldn't see anything, except his gray hair in the light. Then in a sudden burst, all the spotlights came on, and the Grateful Dead began to play. They opened with "Hell in a Bucket," and Jerry Garcia was incredible. The way his hands seemed to just glide over the fretboard of his guitar. It was my first show, so it must have seemed better than it actually was, but they sounded as though they were playing better than I had ever heard. They finished the unusually short, six-song first set with the superb "Bird Song."
After their break, they started with "Box Of Rain." They went on to play "Throwing Stones," "Not Fade Away," "Standing on the Moon," and a surprising "Terrapin Station" that was unreal.
After the show we found our way back to the parking lot. For that brief period of time I forgot all the problems I had. It was peaceful and euphoric. I was detached from the everyday world for one small instant, but now it all started coming back into focus. All my problems came rushing back at the same time. I'll never forget the night of my first Dead show, and only hopes of someday returning to that grateful place fill my head. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.