Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Mardi Gras 1992

2/23/92 Grateful Dead @ Oakland Coliseum - Oakland, CA

Another February Grateful Dead tradition was a Mardi Gras celebration. In 1992 they did this instead of a Chinese New Year celebration.

I seem to recall initially heading out to this one on my own. I think I met up with my friend Joby later in the trip. Meanwhile, Joby's friend, Jeff - the guy we stayed with for the CNY run - did me a huge favor and picked me up at the airport and I stayed with him up in Larkspur for a few days. What a nice guy.

The Dead were at the start of their final downhill slide at this point. I don't really recall anything terribly special about these shows. In fact - They were pretty lame. The main exception to that being Drums on 2/23, which featured Hamza El Din. Absolutely amazing.

The other interesting thing about these shows was the introduction of 4 new songs: "So Many Roads" and "Wave To The Wind" on 2/22 and "Corinna" and "Way To Go Home" on 2/23. They played these in the first set on each night, then they played all 4 in the second sat of 2/24. That's a pretty lame batch of new songs. Getting each of them twice in 3 nights was a drag.

It was especially lame on night #3. The first set was possibly the shortest Dead set I'd ever seen - 6 songs. It ended with "Cassidy". They ALWAYS play something after "Cassidy" to end the set, but tonight they left us hanging.

Set 2 started out great. That's when the Mardi Gras parade came through, while the band played "Iko Iko". That was just awesome. The parade rolled through the floor of the coliseum - people throwing beads, noisemakers...all kinds of things. What a great party - matched only by the new years celebrations of years past. This 10 minutes or so was worth the whole trip.

And what would they follow "Iko" with? Maybe "Women Are Smarter" or "Hey Pocky Way?" Nope. Bob broke out "Corinna" - one of the dragging new songs they just introduced. Way to kill the party, Bob. That just sucked the fun out of everything. They loaded up the rest of the set with the other new songs and a few standards. What should have been a 90-minute party turned into a bit of a bummer.

I had a better time than the text above indicates. It was still a good time. But I had been to California enough now that just being there wasn't enough. The band didn't step up this time. That would become a more common occurrence in the coming years.

Here are a few pics from the parade. Note that this was pre-digital cams and I was using a disposable, cardboard camera with a flash that went about 4 feet. Believe it or not, these are the best pictures of my batch.

I'm pretty sure Bart was smoking a joint. Seriously. I also seem to recall Wavy Gravy on one of the floats. That tiny white figure in the distance of the last pic is Phil Lesh, I think.

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