Psychedelic Splendor: Dead & Co.'s Rainbow Ride Under Venus' Gaze

Article Contributed by gratefulweb | Published on Sunday, July 2, 2023

A day and a night, full of unforgettable moments and classic tunes, came to life at the hallowed ground of Folsom Field. On July 1st, 2023, Dead and Company unfurled their cosmic tapestry for the first of three nights in a location steeped in a deep and abiding love for the Grateful Dead. This trio of shows not only marks the band's last performances at the venue but is also the final whistle-stop on their grand farewell tour.

Shakedown in Boulder

As the sun set on Shakedown Street, now relocated to Boulder High School fields, the vibrant market sprung to life. The eclectic array of trinkets, t-shirts, and other Deadhead paraphernalia shared space with mouth-watering food stalls and Sammy Smith Beers. And yes, the notorious nitrous tanks were aplenty, the nonchalant local police choosing to let sleeping dogs lie and the Deadheads to roam free. Indeed, Shakedown Street remains a vital artery in the heart of the scene, where the uninitiated and the old-timers converge, united by their shared love for this iconic band.

Shakedown  - Boulder, Colorado

The air at Folsom Field was crackling with anticipation as the stadium filled to the brim, a sight unprecedented in the six-year history of the band playing there. As time warps around the Grateful Dead, the audience was a potpourri of the young and the old, proving yet again that their music is a timeless charm, traversing generations.

lots of folks looking for tickets last night

As the band walked on stage, the atmosphere was electric, with fans old and young alike belting out the first lines of the Sam Cooke classic, 'Let the Good Times Roll.' This chorus was symbolic of the night to come, a night that etched a memory that will last a lifetime for every single soul in that packed stadium.

Following the opening number, Bob Weir stepped up with 'Truckin',' a tune so famous that even those with a passing acquaintance with the band would recognize its iconic line, "What a long strange trip it's been." The jam then beautifully segued into Howlin' Wolf's 'Smokestack Lightning,' another bluesy gem that the Grateful Dead has always made their own.

Dead & Company | Folsom Field

The baton then passed to John Mayer, who delivered a solid rendition of 'Deal.' While it might not have had the freewheeling jams we've seen in other versions, the tight performance and the joyous chorus united the entire stadium in a rhythmic celebration.

After the thrill of 'Deal,' Weir brought us the classic 'Me and My Uncle,' a song that, despite being famously associated with the Grateful Dead, is originally a John Phillips piece. The mention of "South Colorado" and the line "I'm as honest as a Denver man can be" evoked roaring approval from the crowd, a tip of the hat to their Colorado roots.

The evening then segued into 'Dear Mr. Fantasy,' with Mayer belting out an impressive solo, leading the entire place in a hearty singalong, an experience that set the stage for 'Hey Jude' by The Beatles. As the night sky echoed with thousands of voices singing together, the energy was at its peak in Set 1.

Folsom Field | Boulder, Colorado

Then, as the excitement began to simmer, 'Terrapin Station' began to play, marking an unexpected but delightful turn. This Hunter/Garcia masterpiece was like the cherry on top of a phenomenal first set. But just as the audience thought the set was done, Mayer and Weir sprang a surprise with 'Don't Ease Me In,' to bring the curtain down on an unforgettable first set.

Set 2 was a thrilling odyssey that opened with an epic 18-minute rendition of 'Eyes of the World.' The highlight being a magnificent bass solo by Oteil Burbridge, a melody that dove deep and surfaced with grace. As if the stage wasn't already humming with energy, Jeff Chimenti's piano pirouettes danced into the mix, his keys sashaying between the jazz-infused bubbles of John Mayer's lively guitar dialogue. This riveting performance seamlessly transitioned into 'Shakedown Street,' a euphonious number that had everyone, from seasoned Deadheads to the neophyte nomads, swaying under its infectious rhythm.

Rainbows over Folsom last night

The night was not over yet, and the band had another ace up their sleeve with the much-loved 'St. Stephen.' This was followed by 'Cumberland Blues,' a song that always brought the house down with its sing-along chorus and Mayer's masterful guitar solos.

The mesmerizing beats of 'Drums and Space' then filled the stadium, with Mickey Hart masterfully blending rainforest visuals with a score that transported the audience into a world far from Folsom Field. The credit for this hypnotic journey, though, also goes to Jay Lane, a stalwart in Weir's various bands and a former drummer for Primus.

Lane's addition to the lineup has added much-needed dynamism and power to the band's rhythm section, adding that extra zest to the songs and breathing new life into this year's tour. His partnership with Mickey Hart has been stellar, both on stage and behind the scenes, raising the bar for the band's performances.

Venus was big and bright last night

After an incredible run, 'Space' morphed into Miles Davis's 'Milestones,' giving the band an opportunity to flex their jazz muscles. This was followed by 'Days Between,' the hauntingly beautiful Hunter/Garcia song, with Weir's poignant rendition adding an emotional layer to the concert.

Next came the evergreen 'Sugar Magnolia,' followed by an unexpected surprise in the form of 'Scarlet Begonias.' The energy of the crowd hit a fever pitch as everyone sang and danced, lost in the music, before moving back into 'Sunshine Daydream' to close Set 2.

As the night neared its end and curfew loomed, expectations swirled for the anticipated encore 'One More Saturday Night.' Yet, in a delightful twist, the band decided to march to their own beat. The familiar strains of 'Going Down The Road Feeling Bad' filled the air instead, stirring the crowd into another favorite sing-along and proving that the Dead & Co. still had a few surprises left in their mystical musical bag.

Folsom Field - CU Boulder

As the concert came to a close, the impact of the night on the audience was palpable. The concert's magical ambiance, with Venus watching over the crowd and a rainbow brightening the sky, had welcomed a whole new generation of fans into the Deadhead family. As Boulder looks forward to two more shows at Folsom, it's clear that the love affair between the band and the city remains as strong as ever. After all, Grateful Dead and Boulder have always had an enduring bond. Thank you, Bob Weir, for keeping the flame alive and continuing to be the tireless road warrior that you are.

Folsom Field | Boulder, Colorado