For a number of years I've been keeping a Grateful Dead notebook. Eventually, I began writing impressions and capsule reviews of shows I have in my collection. I've adopted the style Dead archivist Dick Latvala used for the sake of organization, but also as a small tribute to the man. This blog will be an online version of that notebook. Feel free to leave comments or to email me. I want this space to be an open forum for all Deadheads.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

1970-05-06 - Kresge Plaza

Venue: Kresge Plaza, M.I.T. - Cambridge, MA
Tape History: SBD
Release History: None

Set 1
*Dancin' In The Streets, China Cat Sunflower -> I Know You Rider, Next Time You See Me, *Morning Dew, *Good Lovin' -> *Drums -> *Good Lovin', Casey Jones, *St. Stephen -> *NFA

02-02-2011: Sometimes the muse hits before it's "supposed to." The Grateful Dead, scheduled to perform on May 7, 1970 at M.I.T.'s Dupont Gym, went ahead with a free concert the day before on the steps of the student center, as part of a rally protesting the deaths of student demonstrators at Kent State on May 4, and played one of their strongest sets of the year. Yes, an impromptu performance still overshadows the official concert.

This is a crunchy sounding tape. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It isn't tape hiss, but an external kind of crunch out there. It may have something to do with the rain that was reportedly falling that day. It's not terribly bad, either; solid B. Word is that the band was freezing, but insisted on playing for the students even though the scheduled gig was the next night. Gotta love it!

The first few seconds of "Dancin'" are missing. Thankfully, that hardly marks a dent in this fantastic version. From the get go, Jerry and company take off and don't settle for anything. This particular version of "Dancin'" ranks with the Harpur College cut four days before (Dick's Picks 8), still one of the very best shows for Deadheads the world over. They push and stretch their playing throughout, with occasional "Dark Star" licks from Jerry and ferocious energy from the whole crew. Near the end of the opening tune, it sounds like an embryonic form of "Eyes" takes shape. A leisurely "Rider" emerges after a very brief "China Cat." In what will become a fan favorite and highlight of too many shows to name, the pairing of these two tunes here is unremarkable. A first rate "Morning Dew" occupies the center of this gig, and you can feel how the "Where have all the people gone?" lyric hung above the audience, with no resolution in sight. "Good Lovin'" - a regular buzzkill tune for me - may well be the peak performance of the show, false start and hilarious bad mic banter notwithstanding. It's analogous to the the "Dancin'" opener, stretching out, reaching, the band certifiably cooking under Jerry's flights. All the while Phil and Jerry are astoundingly in sync. There is an interesting and tense segment in "St. Stephen" when the band seems intent on going into "NFA" after "one man gathers what another man spills." Jerry brings them back with the classic "Stephen" lick and the band then flies into the last two verses. It's a great little sequence, the band making it up as they go along.

Love some of the banter here. At the end of "NFA," Bobby says, "Hey, we're going to split, and we'll be playing for you tomorrow night, but it's just too fucking cold. You know how it is."

Anybody missing a little kid named Frank?

Dancin' In The Streets

(Unknown photo credit.)

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