Friday, August 18, 2006

10-28-79 Cape Cod Coliseum, South Yarmouth MA

This 1979 fall tour, one of their first with Brent Mydland, was considered kind of rough by a lot of people, but this two-night stand way out on Cape Cod seems to be a notable exception. The venue has been called (by posters on a "sweatbox," and "a typical third rate, minimalist, New England hockey arena - all metal," and this no-frills sweat-lodge intimacy seemed to inspire one of those magical Dead happenings, on both nights. As another poster named "smattman" says about the first night, quoted at length: "The building left much to be desired itself - its now a warehouse - I couldn't believe how much the place heated up at that time of the year. I do remember that when we left the arena the steam poured out of the doors for a half hour to the heavens, sort of a tribute to intensity of the evening. I wished they played there more than just twice as the remoteness led to a purity of true fans dominating the scene."

I have the second night here and I've really grown to love it, and most collectors seem to prefer the first night, so you know these knows were fairly legendary, known simply as "Cape Tapes" among traders. The show opens with a "Mississippi Half-Step Toodle-oo" into "Franklin's Tower," a process that takes about 31 minutes, and the "Franklin's Tower" is just slammin'. (The night before, they had opened the second set with a "Dancin' in the Street" into "Franklin's" that also lasted over 30 minutes, and is regarded by many as perhaps the best "Franklin's" ever!) I was never a huge fan of Mydland's beer-commercial vocals, but there's something so clipped and funky about the way he sings "Roll away.....the dew" here, not to mention the relentless of the two-chord groove, and the funky way Garcia's guitar and Mydland's electric piano blend and converse.

And speaking of that Garcia/Mydland blend, wait until you hear the 2nd set opener, quite simply my personal favorite China/Rider of all time. Mydland's the hero, too, playing perfect subdued electric piano that really takes off during a gorgeous transition and drives "Rider" all the way home. (Awesome cowbell accents too by the drummers, no kidding, really playful stuff.) There are more set two highlights, namely a lovely "Ship of Fools" and then a crazed hallucinogenic "Playing in the Band" that segues into one of the most powerful "Drums" I've ever heard. Billy and Mickey work themselves into some completely hard-driving relentless Burundi-type shit, and because my version switches from SBD to AUD at "Playin'," I can really hear the effect it's having on the crowd -- they are going apeshit! Then a weird "Space" into a chilling "Stella Blue" and a triumphant "Sugar Magnolia." Great show.


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