New Riders of the Purple Sage with Robert Hunter: 7/26/1978

NRPS_7-26-78

This stub is old and faded, kind of like my memory of the show, but there are some things which I remember vividly about that night.

I was pretty young when I went to this concert, which was held in the gym of Stony Brook University in New York. I went with my friend Bob, whose nickname was Ola (in NY, you were either called by your last name or by a nickname at that time). It was general admission, as was the norm during the 70s, so we got there early and spent a good part of the day hanging out in line.

We went inside and I got separated from Ola almost immediately, which kind of sucked because I was now by myself for the entire concert. There was no such thing as text or cell phones at that time. If you got split up, that was just too bad.

I found myself a spot on the first row of bleachers, which seemed like a prime location because I could stand and see just over the sea of heads packing the gymnasium floor. Robert Hunter was the opening act, and I was pretty psyched to see him. By this time, I was already a Grateful Dead fan, and Hunter being the person who co-wrote many of the Dead’s songs with Jerry Garcia, it was almost like seeing one of the Dead for me. It was just Hunter by himself with an acoustic guitar, but I remember the thrill of the performance. The crowd was very energetic and appreciative.

After an intermission, the New Riders came out. My memory of their performance is foggy at best, vague and distant impressions of peering through a thick haze of smoke at the band on the stage. It was during the New Riders’ first set that something very, very unpleasant happened. This part of the concert I remember clearly to this day.

As I mentioned, I was on the first row of the bleachers, looking just over the top of the crowd on the floor. I was engrossed in the music, when something caught my attention—a girl, struggling through the crowd, in my direction. I recognized the look of distress on her face. I quickly looked around me, but there was no where I could go. It was like one of those bad dreams, where everything slows down and all you want to do is escape, but you cannot for the life of you move. Complete and total panic. There was nothing I could do. She came right to me and proceeded to empty the contents of her stomach all over my shoes.

I decided I needed to get outside for a bit. I relinquished my “prime” spot and exited the gym. (Back then, you could leave and renter a show with your stub.) I found a piece of cardboard and managed to scrape the vomit from my shoes. I sat by myself under a tree for a while, enjoying some fresh air and a break from the human congestion. I could hear the music in the distance. After a while, I gathered myself back up and went back in for the rest of the concert.

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