The Big, Bad Business of The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead create an environment like no other. 20130404-grateful-dead-1977-600x-1365096057It is a simple thing, marvelous and sweet, just music, but music to live in, breathless and divine at moments, raucous at others, insane in between, just music, music that never seems to end.
c22f469e79d5ff7255f96d7838c7e7c4.jpgYeah, I love The Grateful Dead. That’s why I wanted to go to the 50th Anniversary Shows in Chicago. That’s why I entered the mail order. UoMoO2HThat’s why, even after only 10% of the orders were fulfilled (not for me) in some sort of unpleasant insider deal with Ticketmaster, Stubhub, Ebay, etc, I tried again.

That’s why, even with tickets marked up as much as 1200% (yes, twelve thousand percent), I am still considering going to one of the nights. And that’s also why I’m questioning the whole thing…or to be more honest, why I’m so pissed off at the band right now. Mr. Fox Gone MadThis astronomical pricing indicate that there is a possibility of Jerry Garcia might show up when it’s going to be Trey Anastasio instead, a guitarist known for his obsessive Zappa-like changes, and on-stage shenanigans.trampolineThe ugly tenor established by the promoters of this event indicate that this show could even feature a bastardized setlist or two. And it could be real bad: Day Job – Big Boss Man – Money – Deal – Money Money – Might As Well – Sell Out.

The Dead do not have a good business history, messing up Grateful Dead Records and every big concert they staged; as Bob Weir admitted many years ago, “We always blow the big shows”.

DeadWoodIndeed, for this show of shows, how is that Deadheads will even get in…slider2…when the market for tickets has been cornered by Deadheads who have lost their way?24-guys-smoking-cigars-after-weddingThe band has never been known for empathy. Many anecdotes in Dennis McNally’s What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been focus on the band members’ personal indifference toward one another, including when drummer Bill Kreutzmann had to leave a tour to visit his gravely ill father, and only Bob Weir bothered to talk to him about it.

The musicians are known for their personal indulgences in sex, booze and drugs, and not much else…except of course for the music. GRK850614-02-FPIt is the music that is supposed to take us away from the scourge that is us, the burden of who we actually are, this detritus, our ugly state. And, yes, this music really can do that. It’s just that now The Dead are demanding a heavy price..and it isn’t just money. And yet…I still wanna go. How much is it again?

Ticket Frenzy for Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary Shows

I’m a little worked up. I just entered the ticket lottery for the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary show in Chicago on July 4th…but I didn’t decorate my envelope.Dead 50th logoYes, I realize that this thing is over-hyped and over-priced (and that the lead guitarist is Trey Anastasio of Phish and not Jerry Garcia), but the thing is I really like the music.

I’ve seen the various incarnations over the past 20 years, including Phil Lesh & Friends, Ratdog, Further and The Dead, and have always enjoyed it.

Phil Lesh plays Forest Hills, 2014

Phil Lesh and Friends plays Forest Hills, 2014

In other words, as too many have already said, I’m thinking this thing just might be epic.

And so I followed all of the directions from Grateful Dead Ticket Srvices (GDTSTOO) exactly as scripted. I wrote how many tickets I wanted (2) and for which night (July 4) on the envelope. Screenshot (908)I filled out the 3 x 5 index card with all of the required information. I inserted a neatly addressed SASE. I filled out three different money orders – for the lower priced ticket ($95.50), the price difference with the higher priced one ($120.00) and the fee for priority mail return ($9.00). (Not Fedex!!) I did all of that. And I posted it on the very first day, right behind another meticulous fan who scoffed. “We don’t have a chance.”

The only thing I failed to do was decorate my envelope, something that is stated as being “welcome”. This is where I think that I made a mistake. As one Deadhead mused on-line, “I don’t want my order thrown onto the scalper’s pile!” envelopeAnd while that logic might makes sense, I still don’t see why I have to decorate my envelope. I mean, I’m not a toddler, nor am I ever stoned. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. It actually seems a cult-ish, dare I say conformist, thing to demand. If you don’t decorate, we know you’re a greed-head capitalist! (Which I’m really not.)

Anyway, so I didn’t do it, and now I have second thoughts. ‘Cause, the truth is I want to be there. I have to be there! They could open with El Paso-Lazy Lightnin’-Supplication-Me & My Uncle-El Paso-Supplication-Smokestack Lightnin’-Mountains of the Moon-El Paso! I mean, Holy God, it’s possible! They really could do that! deadplayelpasoBut what can I do now?

Maybe I should send an letter of apology and decorate that! What about a picture of Jerry dancing with those little bears and a steal-your-face sun above them all?jerry-garcia-dancing-bears I bet that no one’s thought of that!