Last weekend, I went to my first Grateful Dead concert in Santa Clara as part of the Fare Thee Well mini-tour. I have never been a Deadhead. I have liked the dead, listened to them on many occasions, and I even own a few CDs and a couple of vinyl bootlegs. If this was any other band, I’d be considered a fan. When it comes to the Dead, I’m an outsider. I appreciated the Dead musically but I was always a bigger fan of their studio material than their live jams. American Beauty has been spun on my system as much as any of my favorite albums (I own over 10,000 albums to give you some perspective). As a first timer at a Dead show…this is my impression: now, I get it. I was blown away. This is easily one of the ten best concert going experiences of my life and I’ve seen hundreds of shows. The musicianship was excellent, even with the few missteps (which should be expected) their craft was better than 99% of the musicians playing music today. Vocally, they were functional…but let’s be honest, the Dead were never great singers. They were unique in the vein of Dylan. I always thought they sounded like old men singing…now they live the part. I hate Phish, but thought Trey was a perfect guest to fill Jerry’s shoes for this celebration. The show was stunning and will be a great memory to my musical life. I wasn’t a Deadhead before the show, I am now. Now I’m off to catch up with 50 years of concerts, albums, and side projects.
I’m shocked by the reactions of some people about the 2015 shows and the abilities of the band. Some say it’s a cash grab, which is a petty argument. Aren’t all concerts cash grabs? People say the show wasn’t the same as in the old days. Of course not, these guys are in their 70s, get some perspective. After listening and watching old shows on Youtube…I’ll be honest…they still sound exceptional. Are the 70s shows better? Yes. The 80s shows? Sometimes. The 90s shows? eh. The biggest difference isn’t the band…it’s the crowd. The Dead culture was as big as the band. That culture no longer exists…which is the bigger aspect of what was missing. The music was sharp as ever. As a concert experience, it was still mind-bending.
This list is meant to be fun. It’s not a list of what should have been played. Not at all. It’s a list of some of their stronger songs that didn’t make the tour. I made a list of live versions of all these songs, so you can enjoy them.
Here Are the 11 Best Grateful Dead Songs Not Played During Fare Thee Well:
This summer Jamie xx will have us up raving all night with his new album. It’s already easily one of the best albums of the year but there is still something missing. I don’t know if it’s the appearance of his xx band mates on a few random songs that makes wish this was a full xx album…or if it’s the appearance of his xx band mates who make me wish this was a full Jamie xx album. When something leaves us wanting more, it’s only because it’s great. We don’t wish for excess of mediocrity.
It’s Faith No More week but that doesn’t mean the Mike Patton gets all the guts and glory. Let me tell you…he wants them, too; but it’s more about the guts than the glory. Keyboardist Roddy Bottum may have the second best post-FNM career to Patton; it is just a lot less known since Patton has 50 side projects and is everywhere. Roddy’s band Imperial Teen has had a decent life of its own and they deserve their own list.
When Mike Patton joined Faith No More, he was wilder and crazier than any other frontman at the time. He made Axl Rose look like a librarian. Patton was so wild and crazy…that one band could not contain him. He kept it together for his stint in Faith No More…which by Mike Patton standards was keeping it together. He unleashed his insanity in his side project known as Mr. Bungle. Get ready for one wacky playlist.
In the long hiatus between Faith No More albums, the band members kept busy. The busiest of them all was Mike Patton and his six octave range who released 23 albums and almost 50 guest appearances. You couldn’t stop him, you could only hope to contain him. It was inevitable for Faith No More to get back together because Mike Patton was running out of people to play with! One of the most successful post-FNM projects was Tomahawk, featuring Duane Denison of The Jesus Lizard, Kevin Rutmanis of the Melvins and John Stainer of Helmet.