July 4, 1986|
Jack Straw; Dupree's Diamond Blues; CC.Rider; Tennessee Jed; Uncle Esau; Touch of Grey
The first time I went to a Grateful Dead concert was in July of 1986. I had just graduated college and I was on my way down to Washington DC to start my professional life. This was to be my last hurrah before becoming an 'adult.' The show was in Rich Stadium outside of Buffalo. I rode my motorcycle to Buffalo. I had only been riding for a few short months. As I rode along the NYS Thruway I felt rather intimidated by all the tractor trailer trucks going by. At one point I had one in front of me, one behind me, and one beside me in the passing lane. It was just a bit overwhelming and I had to pull off and take a break for a couple minutes.
I stayed with one of my best buddies from college, TNT, who's parents lived just a few miles from the stadium. His mother dropped us off at the stadium like we were in Jr. High and too young to drive for ourselves. We did this because it was just a little bit too long to walk, and we didn't want to fuck around with parking. This was good planning, because the parking lot was totally swarming with deadheads. Being my first show it was my introduction to the "festival" atmosphere that followed the Dead from venue to venue. It was amazing. There were all kinds of VW busses and campers, and old school busses, and even one or two converted old Greyhound busses. The hippies were selling jewelry and t-shirts and natural foods, and all sorts of stuff. It was like a little city populated only by deadheads. I felt totally at home.
I actually don't remember all that much from the concert. At the time I was still pretty new to Grateful Dead music and only knew a handfull of songs. I thought I remembered hearing them play "Truckin'" because of the line, "Truckin' off to Buffalo," but according to deadbase they didn't play it.
TNT and I moved around the stadium a lot during the show. This was back in the days of general admission seating, so we were free to go about anywhere we wanted. I think it required special tickets to get down on the field. As I recall we snuck in. It wasn't too hard. I knew that a number of friends of mine would be at the show, but we didn't bump into a single one of them. I suppose that in a crowd of over 100,000 people the odds are against it. Still, TNT saw lots of his friends but I never saw a single friend of mine. It got me feeling a little lonely and grumpy.
After the Dead finished playing there was still another part of the show. Bob Dylan had teamed up with Tom Petty & the Heartbrakers (of all groups), to revive his old touring career. We watched the first song or two. TNT was moderately interested in staying, but I really wanted to get going. Not only was I a little cranky, I had this huge move to Washington DC looming over me in two days, and I was rather antsy in general. TNT reluctantly agreed to take off. As soon as we were outside the arena they started playing some well-known song. I don't remember what it was, so I can't say whether it was a Dylan song or a Petty song. Either way TNT was really bummed we were missing it. But there was no turning back now.
We found a pay phone and TNT's mom came and got us. We went back to his house and that night we watched the fireworks for the unveiling of the newly restored Statue of Liberty with all the tall ships in New York Harbor and everything. The next day I got back on my motorcycle and headed home. From that day on TNT's parents always knew me as "the motorcycle boy."
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