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.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

1969-04-05 - Avalon Ballroom

Venue: Avalon Ballroom - San Francisco, CA
Tape History: SBD
Release History: None

Set 1
Dupree's Diamond Blues -> Mountains Of The Moon -> *Dark Star -> *St. Stephen ->  Lovelight

Set 2
Hard To Handle -> Cosmic Charlie, China Cat Sunflower -> Doin' That Rag, *Cryptical Envelopment -> *Drums -> *The Other One -> *Cryptical Envelopment -> *The Eleven -> *It's A Sin -> *Alligator -> *Feedback -> *And We Bid You Goodnight

07-22-2012: Good quality tape, some hiss, but it’s really minor. It sounds prevalent in the first two cuts of set one since they are acoustic. The transition into electric “Dark Star” is very smooth, Phil becomes louder too. This particular “Dark Star” is angular, shapeshifting, aggressive. Close to the 11 minute mark, Jerry plays a four or five note pattern that appears in many ’69 “Dark Stars.” About three minutes from the end the band begins to intensify their playing as Jerry finds a pattern that works and rides it for all its got. They go into the second verse and “St. Stephen” bursts out of the gate. I can never get tired of this kind of playing. A brief “William Tell” bridge takes us to a serious “Lovelight.” Good to know that they go back to a full “Eleven” later in set two. Big surprise to hear my man Jerome on the slide in “Hard To Handle.” The tempo is staggered, it gives the song an odd, undeveloped feel. There are also some flubs here. Not the smoothest, and neither is “Cosmic Charlie.” The second set doesn’t remain at a consistently strong level until “Cryptical.” Luckily, it remains strong through the end. This sequence may constitute one of the hardest-hitting jam segments the band played this magical year. Yes, this show has peaks and valleys. The thing is that the peaks (“Dark Star,” “The Other One,” “The Eleven,” “Alligator”) elevate the show to true greatness, rendering the valleys mere obstacles. A necessary show. 

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