Sunday, March 28, 2010


Albany '90

3/24/90 - Grateful Dead @ Knickerbocker Arena - Albany, NY
3/25/90 - Grateful Dead @ Knickerbocker Arena - Albany, NY

Again - They were playing on a Saturday, so we decided to make a weekend of it. Steve's girlfriend (now wife) had a friend in Albany, so we had a free place to stay. It would be silly for us NOT to go - right?

Steve was driving "Stella" at the time - his late-60s/early 70s VW Transporter. It was basically a VW Bus without windows on the side - although it did have a skylight. It looked like a VW cargo van, but the inside was quite nice, with the fold out bed, table, seating, etc. Classy. It was always a struggle to keep it running, but it did fine this trip.

Back in 1990 I used to distribute Dupree's Diamond News pretty regularly. I gave out most of them before the show on 3/24, but I had a bunch leftover at showtime that I figured I'd just distribute inside. The security folks would have none of that. They told me I couldn't bring them inside. Ummm....It's just about 50 sheets of paper. You've got people bringing in their entire campsites on their back and I can't bring in a stack of paper? Fine. I stood right beside the woman and handed them to people as they walked in. I ended up missing the first two songs, walking in in the middle of "Slipknot". Dammit.

This show goes down as a classic. I've discussed the awesomeness of Spring '90 in the past, but the 3/24 show is one of the best of the best for the period. This run is documented on the Dozin' At The Knick cd.

The whole first set was incredibly solid - the highlight being "Loser" from Jerry. I'm still amazed that didn't make the cd. There was an oddly placed "One More Saturday Night" to close the first set, too. But the meat and potatoes of this show comes in the 2nd set, which was just jaw-dropping from start to finish. The "Playin'-> Uncle John-> Terrapin-> Mind Left Body Jam" was an amazing 45-minutes or so of perfection. Holy crap. The rest of the set didn't suck either, as evidenced by the fact that they included the entire set on the Dozin' cd. The "Bid You Goodnight" encore was the perfect ending to a sublime evening.

Back to the friend's place, where 2 things happened: 1) the girl's cat gave me a rather severe asthma attack, and 2) Steve slept with a down comforter, which caused his allergies to go completely haywire. We were both miserable the next day and just wanted to get things over with.

Our seats for 3/25 were directly behind the stage, which was fine by us. We had a great view of the drummers and were actually very close to the band. It's always very relaxed behind the stage, which was exactly what we needed, considering we both felt like crap.

3/25 often gets overlooked in favor of 3/24, but this one's no slouch either. An odd, but totally rocking "Greatest Story > Touch of Grey" opener... a rare "Never Trust a Woman" and BOTH "Bird Song" and "Let it Grow" in the first set. Yowza. That's one killer setlist.

Set 2 opened with "Eyes", which they just NEVER did. Steve and I just gave each other this "Are you kidding me?" look. A nice, slow, rollicking "Eyes" kicked-off yet another terrific Spring '90 set. Not a bad song in the bunch. The rockers rocked. The ballads were slow, soulful and pretty. A rare (for us) "Mighty Quinn" encore capped another great run.

Random memory: We ran into Sean, an old college friend in the parking lot. He would pop-up at various shows from time to time.

I think I could pinpoint 3/25 as the night I finally realized that we weren't just dressing up and playing deadhead any more. I remember after the show, feeling miserable, sitting in the bus, freezing, wrapped up in my poncho, putting my sign up in the window that indicated I was looking for Atlanta tickets for the following weekend , waiting for Steve and his girlfriend to get back so we could get a decent night sleep before the 7+ hour drive home. This girl walked by, looked at me, pointed me out to her friends and they all went "Awwww." simultaneously. I think I just chuckled to myself at the absurdity of it all, but apparently my life had taken a bit of a turn somewhere - haha.

The entire second set from 3/24 is on Dozin', as are 8 songs from 3/25. "One More Saturday Night" from 3/24 is also on Without a Net.

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