Joe Russo’s Almost Dead took over Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre last Thursday, August 29th, igniting a monumental weekend of music throughout the Greater Denver Area. Attendees began their night socializing and connecting to fellow Deadheads in the lots, as others had their finger up looking for their miracles for this legendary sold-out show at Red Rocks.
As attendees made their way up The Rocks, their first sight was Joe Russo’s drum kit centered in the middle of the stage, looking sharp and ready for a wild night of music. The weather was perfect, and the Amphitheatre held much excitement for the performance that was about to begin. The music began promptly at 8 p.m. as the sun became purple and pink, setting down on the park.
JRAD began their set slow and prestigious as they tuned in for a night full of heavy and open jams, igniting the beginning of the set with a lengthy cover of The Beatles' “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road,” into “Foolish Heart.” The crowd was instantly connected to the traditional and instrumental tone of the band, backed with heavy keys, a wailing saxophone and Joe Russo leading the way.
The familiar tone of “Shakedown Street” began and the crowd really began to move their bodies for the first time, as they sang along to the words. There were heavy saxophone solos scattered throughout the night and the brass instrumentation really put a nice zest on the overall sound of music for the night. After the “Shakedown” grooves accompanied by a lovely flute melody, the band teased Phish’s “First Tube,” exciting nearly half of the crowd that were to be in attendance of Phish at Dicks Sporting Goods Park for the weekend.
Yellow lights transcended on the crowd while simultaneously the beats and melody of the band got heavier, as they transitioned into “Terrapin Station.” With more hints of saxophone and powerful vocals, the crowd sang together, “I’ll get up and fly away, fly away,” for a meaningful and intense “Wharf Rat.” The set ended with an extended “Hell in a Bucket.”
A slow, instrumental build led us into set two at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre transitioning into “Bird Song,” > “I Feel Like A Stranger,” with heavy keys throughout both songs. Next, JRAD played a fifteen-minute JGB “Cats Under The Stars,” showing off each band members individual talent as well as playing whole-heartedly and distinguishable as a collective. Guitar highlights were leading the way as they came back to “Bird Song.”
The set continued with a Bob Dylan cover, “Momma,” into another cover by Jane's Addiction, “Mountain Song.” Benevento was consistently keeping the energy up by playing lively and staccato notes throughout the whole set. Followed by Joe Russo's lead and ecstatic brass & bass, it allowed for there to be hints of all genres of music throughout the night but also led by the familiarity of the Grateful Dead.
The set ended with the whole amphitheater singing along to “I Know You Rider.” Joe Russo’s Almost Dead came back on stage to encore with “Brokedown Palace,” a heartfelt ballad in honor of Neal Casal, who passed away earlier that week.
This six-piece collective that made up Joe Russo’s Almost Dead for the night was demonstrating their individual instrumental talents yet respectively feeding off of each other’s energies, as well as the crowds, for the whole night. Consistent build-ups and extended solo’s allowed for complete musical freedom, supported by the Grateful Dead’s songs, on this evening at the legendary Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. This night of music in Colorado is followed by three nights of Phish at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.